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RSPB responds

…to future of aviation report

The Davies Commission into the future of aviation has once again highlighted the environmental destruction an airport in the Thames Estuary would cause.

In his report released this morning Sir Howard favours new runways at existing airports, with Heathrow ahead of Gatwick. But he has included a second division level of a new airport on Kent’s Hoo Peninsula in the Thames Estuary, which he acknowledges would be both expensive (up to £112 billion) and environmentally damaging.

The RSPB believes that further airport expansion will undermine efforts to reduce our climate impact in the UK, and that further scrutiny of an option in the Thames Estuary will lead to it being ruled out completely.

The tidal mudflats, saltmarsh and reed beds that line the estuary are one of the most import wildlife habitats in Europe, home to a rich ecosystem which includes hundreds of thousands of threatened wintering birds. It is designated with the highest environmental protection available.

Sue Armstrong-Brown, RSPB head of policy, said: “We have always said that the Thames Estuary is a disastrous place to put an airport. It supports many thousands of wintering birds and other wildlife.

“Every time a spotlight is put on the Thames Estuary as a potential site for an airport it is revealed to be both an environmental disaster and economic lunacy. The more scrutiny put on this proposal, the more clear it will be for all concerned that it is a non starter.

“However climate change remains the greatest long term threat to wildlife. We believe there should be no further airports in this country until the Government can demonstrate how they can be built and operated without busting our legally binding climate targets.

“Emissions from aircraft are one of the fastest increasing sources of greenhouse gases. The impacts of climate change on wildlife in the UK and abroad are already being felt with seabirds struggling to find food as sea temperatures increase. Evidence shows that climate change could lead to up to a third of land-based species committed to extinction by 2050.”

4th July 2014