In the light of proposals to expand Luton Airport, Hertfordshire County Council, after discussions and debate, unanimously agreed an appropriate motion to limit CO2 emissions originally proposed by Liberal Democrat Cllr John Hale, and seconded by his colleague, Cllr Steve Jarvis.
The motion read as follows:-
“That the Council notes that:-
1. On 24 September, 2019, the Chair of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Lord Deben, wrote to the Secretaryof State for Transport about net-zero and the approach to International Aviation & Shipping (IAS) emissions. The letter responded to the Government’s request on how to bring IAS emissions formally within the UK’s net-zero target, setting out the rationale and the implications for the UK’s climate strategy.
2. In that letter the CCC stated that, “Aviation emissions could be reduced by around 20% from today to 2050 through improvement to fuel efficiency, some use of sustainable biofuels, and by limiting demand growth to at most 25% above current levels. This is likely to be cost-saving. There is potential to reduce emissions further with lower levels of demand.”
3. That the Council has already expressed its serious concernsabout the environmental impacts of the proposed expansion of London Luton Airport from 18 million passengers per year (mppa) to 32 mppa.
4. As per Appendix E paragraph 5.3 of the Executive Report to the County Council, a full draft response to the proposal to expand London Luton Airportwill be considered by theGrowth, Infrastructure, Planning and Economy Cabinet on 4th December.
Given the CCC’s call for demand growth to be limited to at most 25% above current levels it is proposed that in responding to the current consultation for the expansion of London Luton Airport, that the Council:-
5. Objects to the proposed expansion plans on that the grounds that expansion of London Luton Airport capacity to 32 mppa would result in unacceptable harm to the environment; and
6. That given the letter from the CCC, any plans to expand the airport should be deferred until the Government’s response to the CCC’s letter is published.”
During the debate, Cllr Nick Hollinghurst, former County Councillor for Tring, pointed out that no-one was asking for the public to give up certain activities forever, but although he might fly again one day, he had made a conscious effort to avoid flying and it was now 19 years since he had been in a plane. “Call it a gesture if you like,” he said, “but if everyone made just one or two similar ‘gestures’ to reduce CO2 emission we will get through our climate problems.”
“But,” he concluded, “we must all take the Climate Emergency seriously!”