ED DAVEY'S backing for his Liberal Democrat councillors in Eastleigh who granted planning permission for the extension of Southampton airport’s runway, as quoted on the Echo website on Thursday, is weak and inaccurate.

There is no basis for his suggestion that the runway needs to be extended so that existing aircraft can use it safely.

Safety has never been mentioned as a justification for extending the runway: if it were at all unsafe for certain aircraft then they wouldn’t be allowed to use it.

Likewise the idea that the passenger cap is “reducing the use of the airport” is simply not true.

The airport’s previous idea of achieving five million passengers a year was based on building a second terminal east of the runway, and even Eastleigh Borough Council couldn’t pretend that wouldn’t be airport expansion.

Passenger numbers have previously barely exceeded two million, so the idea that a three million passenger cap is somehow reducing use compared to an aspiration which was never likely to be achieved is ludicrous.

The “good agreements on noise” consist of funding noise insulation for a very small proportion of the 46,000 people who will be affected by it, and a noise “cap” which doesn’t come into effect until passenger numbers reach 3 million, and will be almost impossible to measure and enforce.

Mr Davey sounds embarrassed by the contradiction between the decision by Liberal Democrats in Eastleigh and his party's national policy of “No Airport Expansion” (which you can sign a petition on their website to support), and should feel embarrassed by his words in their defence.

Richard Mould-Ryan

AXO Southampton