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Liberal Democrats oppose new runways for London airports

Liberal Democrats Party members have pledged to oppose airport expansion in the south east of England. Members attending its annual party conference have voted in favour of an aviation strategy which opposes new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted airports.25 Sep 2012

Other elements of the new aviation strategy include a rejection of Boris Johnson's Thames Estuary Airport and promotion of better use of existing capacity in the South-East and at regional airports to meet short and medium term demand.

The strategy also rejects any capacity expansions which would allow aircraft movements above the carbon emissions cap set by the independent Committee on Climate Change.

For long term capacity, the strategy suggests commissioning an independent, evidence-based study to find a location for a hub airport or a suitable airport to expand into a hub for the long-term.

“The motion which the Liberal Democrats have adopted today strikes the right balance for Britain," said co-chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport, Julian Huppert. "It puts a stop to expansion at Heathrow. It puts an end to the idea of Boris Island. And it says ‘no’ to a South-East obsessed aviation policy."

“Instead, for the short-term, we will make the best use of the capacity we have, and in the long-term we will work with the Government Commission to look for a new hub, but crucially one which will not allow for total capacity above climate change targets, and one which will not become a blight on local lives and local wildlife," he said.

“With this motion, the Lib Dems have sent a very clear message - we are pro economic growth, but we cannot, and will not walk away from our commitments to the environment," said Liberal Democrat Transport Minister, Norman Baker.

“We said in our Manifesto that we are against the third runway. We said it again in the coalition agreement, and I said it again to conference today. There will be no third runway on our watch,” he said.

The Government announced plans for an independent enquiry into airport capacity in the UK earlier this month. The enquiry will be carried out by a commission chaired by former head of the Financial Services Authority Sir Howard Davies. The commission's final report is due in 2015 and any decisions on action will be taken after the next general election.