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Aviation growth is harming the environment

Aviation damages the countryside Aviation damages the countryside Image: © CPRE

Already, air traffic causes over a tenth of the UK’s contribution to climate change. Planes are disrupting the tranquillity of the countryside and disturbing the lives of thousands. Airports are becoming magnets for big car parks and sprawling developments that eat into the surrounding countryside.

Cheap flights have led to a further cost to the countryside: people in Britain holiday abroad much more than people in other European countries. This contributes to a huge ‘tourism deficit’, with more money spent on holiday abroad by people living here than foreigners spend here on holidays.

Yet this is only the beginning. The Government has made it clear it wants aviation to keep on growing. If this goes ahead, we fear that it threatens to land a disaster on the countryside while making runaway climate change unstoppable.

Instead of further expansion, we need genuine support for and promotion of alternatives.

Our view
CPRE believes that the recent rapid expansion of aviation exceeds environmental limits. This is not only in terms of global issues such as climate change and the use of finite oil resources, but also because of the direct impact on the English countryside. Air quality, the landscape and tranquillity are already suffering.Continued expansion is unsustainable even if there are technological improvements.We also believe that the Government is failing to promote alternatives to flying. Ferry services are being cut back, while once promised long-distance rail services from the English regions to destinations across Europe are still not being provided. Meanwhile millions of pounds are being pumped into regional airports in grants and hidden subsidies. As a result, many people are opting for planes simply because this is easiest and cheapest.

© Campaign to Protect Rural England, 5-11 Lavington Street, London, SE1 0NZ | Tel: 020 7981 2800 | Email: |

Registered charity number: 1089685, registered company number: 4302973