On 23rd July the Government published its plans for a massive expansion in airports: not just at Manchester but at at every airport in the country, and with some new ones thrown in for good luck.
Under their basic UK option, the number of people flying would increase to in excess of 500 million a year by 2030 (up from 180M now). They intend to 'consult' on these proposals for the next few months, until 30th November. Now environmental groups across the country must decide how to respond.
What this would mean for Manchester is: growth from 18.5M passengers now to a minimum of 40M and more likely 60-65M passengers a year - that is, the present size of Heathrow; the construction of more taxiways and aprons (2010-15), a fourth terminal by 2015, and then possibly a 3rd runway, built during the decade from 2020; plus new roads, more noise and air pollution, climate change emissions and general environmental damage.
Clearly, the lunatics have taken over the asylum; and remember, these huge growth proposals are being repeated up and down the country - a new Midlands airport 60M passengers; Stansted between 75-120M; or a new Thames estuary airport between 60-110M.
So far, the mainstream environmental organisations (Friends of the Earth, Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and Transport2000) have got together to form a national campaign against airport growth, called AirportWatch. The job of this campaign is to fight two battles: nationally, challenging the arguments behind the 'need' for this growth in air travel and pointing out the consequences: for climate change, pollution, road traffic growth, greenfield development and so on. And then regionally and locally, to support the communities around airports as they fight back against this assault on their quality of life.
Would you like to take part in this campaign? The initial fight will be for the remaining 3 months of the consultation period; and then there will be another 6 months before the Government decides to accept or reject these plans, based presumably on the amount of grief they have been given during the consultation.
The opportunity is: if we can defeat the arguments being used to justify airport growth nationally, then we can protect not just the community and the area around Manchester Airport, but at every other site in the country as well.
If you're interested, and want to come to a planning meeting for the Manchester campaign, contact Airport Watch (020 7248 2223, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Manchester Friends of the Earth (0161 834 8221, email@example.com)