Aviation and Its Environmental Impacts - The Intractable Third Runway (2830 words)

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QuestionQuestion

In approximately 2500 words, write a research paper on aviation and its environmental impacts. Please choose a specific topic.
Because of its geographical location (an island community on the edge of continental Europe), air transport plays a particularly important role in supporting the social and economic development of the UK. But this reliance upon aviation poses significant challenges because of the local and Global environmental impacts that arise from the industry and the UK Governments commitments to sustainable development.
In recent years, this has been the subject of considerable debate as Heathrow Airport, the main aviation gateway to the UK and one of the largest international airports in the World, approaches capacity and proposals have been brought forward by its owners to construct a new runway.

The UK Governments perspective on sustainable development has been most recently outlined in the documents “Mainstreaming Sustainable Development” (published by DEFRA in 2011) and “Developing a sustainable framework for UK Aviation: Scoping document” (published by the Department for Transport in 2012). Heathrow Airport itself and major airlines have also published their own perspectives of sustainable development as have Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as Greenpeace, HACAN and the Aviation Environmental Federation. But users of airports, businesses and the general public also have their own views.
For this assignment you are required to provide an essay that :
• summarises the key social and economic impacts that are likely to arise from the construction and operation of a third runway at Heathrow
• describes the likely environmental and community consequences and explains how these could act as future constraints to growth
• reviews academic, aviation industry, NGO, Government and airport users publications to identify and critically compare different sectoral perspectives and definitions of sustainable development as it applies to the future growth of Heathrow Airport
• provides a reasoned argument as to how such benefits and costs could be weighed against each other and whether Heathrow should be given planning approval for a third runway
Note: You are not required to address issues such as the economic costs of construction, or the detailed operational implications of the development in any detail.

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This report presents several facets of the situation surrounding Heathrow’s potential new runway – economic, social, community, and environmental impacts, the business realities of the aviation industry with respect to London’s current capacities, and the political climate which keeps the problem largely intractable.
The prospect of Heathrow’s third runway and the likely key social and economic impacts of its construction
According to the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) “an independent coalition of organisations and companies throughout the air transport industry” (2005, p1), the air transport industry has a host of economic and social benefits. The direct economic and social benefits include making global travel possible, which in turn facilitates business and tourism; 2 billion global passengers are transported annually; critically, “aviation’s global economic impact (direct, indirect, induced and catalytic) [was] estimated [in 2005] to be US $2,960 billion” (p2), which amounts to close to a tenth of world GDP; ATAG estimates that 25% of all sales of items are dependent on air transport. Then there are the immense impacts of employment: according to ATAG, the industry “generates a total of 29 million jobs globally” (p2), with 5 million being directly employed by the industry or closely ancillary support industries, 5.8 million indirect jobs created in the industry’s supply chain, 2.7 million other indirect jobs created by the industry’s employees’ spending, and “15.5 million direct and indirect jobs through air transport’s catalytic impact on tourism” (p2).
Further, according to ATAG, the air industry’s social benefits include improving “quality of life by broadening people’s leisure and cultural experiences” (p3); living standards and other aspects of developing countries are boosted by the tourism fostered by air travel; sustainable development is facilitated by the air industry’s role in generating economic growth; without air transport, international and urgent relief work would be impossible, as would many aspects of medicine critically dependent on fast travel.
The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) contests some of these economic benefits of aviation and states that, instead, there are many economic costs which go unbalanced; by the AEF’s estimates, based on the airlines in the UK not having to pay taxes on jet fuel in the same way that taxes on petrol are paid, and because the aviation industry in the UK does not pay VAT, the industry gained about £9 billion in 2003, because the offsetting air passenger duty amounted to only a tenth of that amount. AEF also highlights the somewhat indirect cost of aviation increasing the trade deficit because of the discrepancy between what UK residents spend abroad compared to what foreign visitors spend...
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