Opposition by the Liberal Democrats to any new runways undermines the party’s election manifesto pledge to boost UK tourism, a leading airline body claims.
The British Air Transport Association urged Nick Clegg’s party to consider the findings of the Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies into new runways after the general election with “an open mind”.
The Lib Dem manifesto says: “We will carefully consider the conclusions of the Davies review into runway capacity and develop a strategic airports policy for the whole of the UK in the light of those recommendations and advice from the Committee on Climate Change.”
But it adds: “We remain opposed to any expansion of Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick and any new airport in the Thames Estuary, because of local issues of air and noise pollution. We will ensure no net increase in runways across the UK.”
The manifesto also says: “Tourism and heritage collectively make up as much as 9% of our economy, and yet these industries do not have the status they deserve in government or in wider society.
“We will work to make sure the British tourism industry is able to compete with other major world destinations and be a key generator of growth in the UK economy.”
In response, Bata chief executive, Nathan Stower, said: “I welcome the Liberal Democrats’ recognition of the value of tourism and heritage to the UK economy and their commitment to make sure the British tourism industry is able to compete with other major world destinations.
“Unfortunately, their opposition to any expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick – as well as Stansted or a new Thames Estuary airport – will make that task harder over time, and is at odds with their promise to carefully consider the conclusions of the Davies review.
“The Airports Commission, established by the coalition government, has spent over two years looking at whether new capacity is required and has clearly concluded that there needs to be additional runway capacity in the south east of England by 2030 to meet demand, with Heathrow and Gatwick the two shortlisted locations.
“I urge the Lib Dem leadership to study the commission’s final report with an open mind.”
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