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Air traffic congestion charging:

The potential at Heathrow

Green Party press office briefing

3rd edition, December 2003

Spencer Fitz-Gibbon, Lucy Williams and Grace Gedge

Contact Green Party press office, 020 7561 0282



S1 Air transport is the most heavily-polluting form of transport on earth, and contributes significantly to climate change.

S2 The 'hidden' costs of climate change, and of other negative impacts of the UK aviation industry, are estimated at £3.767 billion a year - 26% of the total for the whole EU. Heathrow airport's share of the hidden costs is estimated at £857 million.

S3 UK aviation is further subsidised by tax breaks amounting to some £9.2 billion a year. Heathrow airport's share of this is estimated at well over £2 billion a year.

S4 The Green Party believes that all these tax breaks should end, and that the hidden costs be paid for by the industry that causes them to be incurred. This must involve international agreements on the taxing of aviation fuel.

S5 Pending such international agreement, measures are proposed here which would:

a. Introduce emissions charges like those in force at Zurich airport, which discourage the most highly-polluting aircraft and provide airlines with the economic  incentive to introduce less dirty technology as quickly as possible.

b. Allow local authorities to apply 'air traffic congestion charges' seeking to reduce demand for air transport, while in the short term raising revenue for sustainable transport and environmental improvement projects, to offset the negative social and environmental impacts of the local airport.

S6 Therefore we urge the Greater London Authority and London Borough Councils to lobby the government to introduce such a power - the power to make Heathrow airport accountable to the community for its true costs, and to allow the community to opt to reduce air traffic and raise revenue to offset the negative consequences of the airport's operations.

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