There was a large and lively demonstration at Farnborough Airport on Saturday to object to the proposal to double the number of flights. It achieved national and international press coverage – in part due to the presence of Greta Thunberg.

The demonstration was arranged by Extinction Rebellion who have the experience needed to organise big events like this where police liaison, road closures and first aid are needed to make them safe.

There is no doubting the public’s concerns about the airport’s proposals. Lots of local people joined, many of whom had never been to a demonstration before, as well as national airport and climate groups.

Everyone’s presence showed the concern people have for the harm the airport is having now let alone the impact it will have if the proposed expansion plans were to be approved.

The airport’s refusal to measure noise and pollution that causes disturbance and harm to the surrounding communities and their refusal to have discussions with organisations like Farnborough Noise Group just puts the airport further and further away from reality.

In the meantime, the airport is making press statements like “the airport’s environmental footprint is a fraction that of a traditional commercial airport, yet it serves as one of the largest employment sites in the region,” a statement that is completely misleading.

It gives the impression of an organisation that thinks the public are naïve and it fails to recognise the concern people have about 47,000 children attending 110 schools under the new flightpaths being subjected to endless noise and pollution.

As there are on average only 2.5 passengers per plane and 40 per cent of flights are empty, private jets are 30 to 40 times more polluting than equivalent commercial flights and the airport only provides services to about 2,000 people, many of whom use the airport for leisure rather than business.

What’s more, the airport only employs 170 people. 

The airport’s ground emissions are just 1.4 per cent of the total emissions so of course the airport’s emissions are relatively small. 

That isn’t the point, it us the flights that are responsible for 98.6 per cent of emissions.

While the airport won’t have a proper conversation about the issues, nor will the Department for Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority or our MPs.

Representatives were invited to the demonstration and it was an ideal opportunity for our eight local MPs to explain their positions. There was no representation from the DfT, CAA or airport, nor from our MPs, but Labour and Lib Dem candidates were there.

Meanwhile the aviation juggernaut rolls on with plans to put a holding stack above Farnham and put new flightpaths to Gatwick over the area, some of which will be night-flights.

The public haven’t been consulted, nor have most of the 270 local parish and borough councils as they are highlighting in their responses to the airport expansion planning application.

There is still time to submit comments to Rushmoor Borough Council on the airport’s plans and the online petition against expansion is heading to 5,000 signatures.

By John Eriksson

Chair, Farnborough Noise