Thirty years is a very short time for forward planning of air transport, when one considers the very long lead times in developing any major airport expansion or new airport. Airport planning in the UK tends to have been characterized by a short-term incremental approach which can lead to highly sub-optimal outcomes, particularly because it favours expansion of existing facilities at the expense of developing superior new facilities. The contrast between London and Paris, over the period since 1950, is highly instructive in this regard.

As with the policy now being developed to deal with the very similar problem of road traffic, it should first set appropriate charges to meet environmental externalizes in particular seeking to do this EU-wide in order to avoid further distortions. Only against this background can an appropriate strategy for individual airports be developed. Such a strategy logically determines a resultant growth level for planning purposes at a lower level than the RRC/ RASCO continuation of current trends.

The TCPA therefore supports constrained growth or a sustainable level of growth, the exact level of which would be determined by the imposition of the fuel and environmental charges listed above. But a hub located in the Thames estuary is far better placed to do so because of its potential integration with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL). It should seek to provide, and take advantage of, the benefits while properly taking account of environmental externalities through pricing policies.

It must develop these in advance of determining supply options. Environmental criteria are primary and should be set in advance, Hire Capable Home Buyers Advocate due to the potentially enormous impacts that unconstrained demand will have on the environment. Regeneration criteria, including economic benefits to areas of low labour demand, are of next importance. Simply seeking to provide for unconstrained growth is not an option and therefore should be given no positive weighting.

A particular problem, not given due weight in the report, is the explosive growth of low-cost airline travel at Luton and Stansted. The aim at these airports should be to raise the cost of access in line with market conditions as mediated by environmental charges. The TCPA strongly endorses the option of a four/five-runway airport in the Thames Estuary, preferably at a mainly offshore location, but possibly at Cliffe Marshes or another estuarial location following a full assessment of the environmental impacts. It is the overwhelmingly superior option on almost every count, especially when the longer term (beyond 2030) is taken into consideration.