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Greens denounce ’sham’ Heathrow consultation 21.02.08

Caroline Lucas

The Government’s continuing support for an expansion of Heathrow airport demonstrates a complete contempt for the environment, the health of UK citizens and for our democratic processes, Green MEP Caroline Lucas said today.

Her comments came as national air traffic control company Nats announced that a shake up of Britain’s airspace would lead to thousands more flights taking off from London’s busiest airports each year - and a significant increase in CO2 emissions.

"This Government’s continued commitment to a massive programme of expansion within the aviation sector is grossly irresponsible. And this latest admission from Nats just proves that the public is expected to passively accept more planes in our skies and surging pollution levels for years to come.

On Heathrow, she said: "The process of consultation on the proposed third runway at Heathrow has been a sham, with no genuine opportunity for people to voice their opposition. The Government is clearly committed to its agenda of expansion at all costs."

Dr Lucas will address a large-scale rally at Westminster on Monday 25 February, and is set to slam the Transport Secretary’s proposals for Heathrow for condemning the UK to an unsustainable future of significantly higher noise and air pollution - and to accelerating climate change.

She said: "Any government which, on the one hand pledges to make a significant reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, and in the next breath gives the green light to the greatest expansion of aviation in a generation is guilty of either the most shameless hypocrisy, or the most unforgivable ignorance and stupidity.

"A third runway at Heathrow would have disastrous consequences for residents in my South East constituency - leading to serious environmental damage and social upheaval through increased pollution, and the destruction of local communities.

Dr Lucas continued: "Despite the promises which were made to limit further expansion, this Government has persisted in a deceptive campaign for a third runway which its own figures estimate will almost double the number of flights using Heathrow each year.

"Whichever way you look at the Government’s proposals on aviation, they are a social and environmental nightmare. What we need is a sustainable transport policy which incentivises train travel and restricts airport capacity.

"It is crucial for the campaign against expansion that those concerned about the Government’s irresponsible actions respond vocally to the consultation as it comes to an end, and attend the public rally next week to send a clear message to the Government that we will not tolerate a third runway."

Caroline Lucas will join fellow campaigner and chair of Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN) John Stewart, as well as a number of other high profile speakers at the large rally in Central Hall, Westminster on Monday 25 February.

Stop Heathrow Expansion, End-of-Consultation Rally

Central Hall, Westminster- corner of Tothill St and Storey’s Gate (Westminster and St James’s Park tube stations)

25th February 2008, 7pm

Peter Shield

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