Opinion: The Standard airport Inquiry: Reconciling the government`s policies on aviation and climate change

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Between May and October 2007 an Inquiry was heard into an application by the operators of Slansled Airport, BAA, to remove the planning condition which imposed a passenger limit at the airport to 25 million passengers a year. If removed, the airport could eventually handle a passenger throughput of almost twice that limit.

Central to BAAs argument was the Governments 'Air Transport White Paper' ('the ATWP'), published in 2003, which sets out the Governments strategic framework for the development of airport capacity in the United Kingdom over the next 30 years. In it the Government called for a 'balanced and measured approach to the future of air transport' — one which recognised that a failure to provide'additional capacity would significantly damage the economy and national prosperity' and which reflected 'peoples desire to travel further and more often by air', but which also sought to 'reduce and minimise the impacts of airports ... on the natural environment' and ensure that 'over time, aviation pays the external costs its activ¬ities impose on society at large — in other words, that the price of air travel reflects its environmental and social impacts'.

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