An idea is doing that rounds that Southampton Airport’s runway expansion is somehow good for the environment because it will save people driving long distances to “less sustainable airports".

The reality is the opposite.

The airport isn’t becoming “carbon neutral” by reducing its carbon emissions to nothing, it is reducing them a bit and then paying money towards carbon-saving projects which may or may not have gone ahead anyway to "offset" the rest.

Any carbon savings from this are a fraction of those to be generated by all the extra flights from the expansion.

The same is true of the emissions saved by people not driving to other airports.

Even if half the planned extra passengers switch journeys from elsewhere the carbon footprint saved by them driving a shorter distance is dwarfed by the extra emissions from all the passengers who have been encouraged to take a journey they wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise.

On the other hand the airport’s plans to welcome electric aircraft should be applauded.

These planes are small – they won’t need a longer runway, so why extend it?

But why is encouraging people to fly abroad for holidays good for our economy?

At Southampton many more tourists go out than come in.

Business travel is less than a third and was diminishing even before the pandemic.

The economy would be better off if people holidayed in the UK.

Angela Cotton

Through website