Today I emailed the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee, which has launched an investigation into transport use after Covid and during the Energy Transition. Here’s a transcript of what I sent:
Dear Committee Members,
I have been asked to prepare the attached document [‘Summary of Objections….’, see posts below] for several local councils in the area north of Luton who have belatedly been invited to participate in a short consultation exercise ahead of a proposed change to airspace which will put a number of their communities under a new descent path to Luton airport.
Just as intercity business travel by rail may grow more slowly as the Coronavirus pandemic recedes and during the energy transition, intercity travel by air may not grow at a pace that warrants these plans. Nearly all the regional airports in the UK plan big expansions. Many of these plans seem timed to gain approval before the Supreme Court has a chance (delayed by Covid-19) to rule on Heathrow’s third runway appeal against the High Court decision to disallow its plans.
There is a danger of a number of these new terminals, runways and facilities becoming stranded assets, draining the income of the local councils that hoped to gain tax revenues, shareholder dividends and employment. A number of local councils are losing money on the shopping malls that they were encouraged to build or to invest in, as online shopping and shop-local schemes undermine the viability of malls and the chain stores that populate them. Could the same thing happen with regional airports? It is not inconceivable.
As a good deal of public transport and road usage is required to get people to and from airports, I wonder if the 27 regional airports in the UK which have plans for expansion will fall under the remit of your committee?