Government bans new runways at UK’s three largest airports

Government bans new runways at UK’s three largest airports

The government has placed a ban on new runways at Britain’s three biggest airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - as part of the nation’s first major aviation policy review in seven years.

The transport secretary Philip Hammond announced the move at an Airport Operators Association conference.

He said: “I know some of you harbour fears that this government is anti-aviation,” insisting this was not the case.

But he quashed any notion a new study could lead to the blanket ban on runways being overruled.

The green agenda was high on the list of priorities of the review. He said the industry had to “decarbonise” and he hoped the review would lead to an understanding of how technological developments, such as aircraft made of lightweight composite materials, could eventually see aviation considered “a carbon good citizen”.

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He also remained lukewarm towards Boris Johnson’s plans for a Thames estuary airport, saying, “Devolution means he’s free to look at whatever he wants to look at, but it’s not something the department is pursuing.”

In a double blow for the aviation industry, the government also quashed plans to withdraw the contentious air passenger duty, which is due to rise again this weekend.

The government said it is looking at plans to replace per-passenger duty with a per-plane tax.

The review is the first since Labour published an air transport white paper in 2003. It will begin in the new year when the Department for Transport will issue a document setting out the questions to be answered in the study. This will be followed by discussion with industry experts, after which Mr Hammond said he hoped to publish a draft policy document for formal consultation early in 2012.