A number of professors from the University of Southampton have spoken out against controversial proposals from Southampton Airport for significant expansion.
Plans for expansion, which have already been the subject of a local Extinction Rebellion protest and a viral petition, include the lengthening of the main runway by 164 metres. The Airport has predicted that this will see annual passenger numbers increase from two to three million, while those critical of the plans say numbers could reach five million.
One professor from the University of Southampton who has joined growing calls to halt expansion in the face of the climate crisis is Felix Eigenbrod, lecturer of Applied Spatial Ecology, Geography and Environmental Science. He said, “The negative impacts – particularly noise – are much worse than I feared, and the economic case for the airport much weaker than I thought […] I find it hard to understand how there can be a credible case for expansion once the full societal costs are considered“.
Others have said that the noise that will likely be caused by the increased aviation traffic will breach rules set out by the UK Government’s own Aviation Policy Framework.
Dr Malcolm Hudson, Associate Professor in Environmental Sciences within Geography and Environmental Science at Southampton, contributed by saying,
It has been proven in court that environmental impact assessments have to include the full extent of negative environmental impacts of a proposed development […] The assessment for the proposed extension of Southampton Airport is fundamentally flawed as it fails to do so for traffic or noise impacts. It also fails to account for cumulative effects with housing expansion around Eastleigh, which when combined with more airport traffic, could cause significant congestion.
Southampton Airport has been ranked as the best small airport in Europe for customer service, has the shortest security queues in the UK, and has committed itself to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.