Tony Colman MP for Putney writes

In this week's diary our MP covers the Sustainable Aviation Debate, postal voting and Wandsworth and Merton Legal Resource Project

Sustainable Aviation Debate

Yesterday I held an Adjournment debate in Parliament on the subject of sustainable aviation. As I said in my column last week I am a long-time campaigner against the expansion of Heathrow airport, having campaigned against expansion since 1991 when I was Leader of Merton Council. My work on the issue has brought me into contact with many groups such as the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), HACAN Clearskies (who campaigned on Putney High Street the other weekend) and the Socialist Environment and Resources Association. I am a member of the new All Party Parliamentary Group on Sustainable Aviation which is seeking to inform the Government on the need for a sustainable aviation policy prior to the publication of the Government's White Paper on the future of Aviation, expected by the end of the year.

One of the issues I raised in my speech was the concept of internalising air travel costs. In the Autumn of 2002 the Department for Transport was asked by groups such as CPRE, AEF and Friends of the Earth to rerun its model for the likely expansion of air travel in the South East taking into consideration the true costs of aviation and removing tax concessions currently enjoyed by the Aviation industry. The result of this remodelling was that the total number of passengers using United Kingdom airports would increase at a much slower rate, from 200 million in 2000 to 315 million in 2030, compared with the official forecast of 501 million. Crucially there would be no need for any new runway in the UK in the period to 2030.

The conclusion of my speech was this:

'Sustainable aviation is not an oxymoron. It can be achieved. It just needs politicians and aerospace engineers to decide to work to ensure a sustainable world. In the case of global warming, we have set out our stall and persuaded the rest of the world to follow. Could the Minister therefore set out the following items in the Government's agenda for ICAO in February 2004: first, no night flights between 11.30 pm and 6 am; secondly, silent aircraft-airframes and engines-by 2025 and, on the way, progressive 20 per cent. and 50 per cent. cuts in noise below 2003 levels for all planes using UK airports; thirdly, major expansion of research into the use of non-fossil fuel for aircraft propulsion; and fourthly, total internalising of all external costs into plane fares, including fuel tax and climate change levy?'

I would draw your attention to the text of the debate, available on the Hansard website:

Postal voting

There has been much talk lately of the need to increase the number of people who vote in elections - whilst support for single-issue campaigns seems to be growing across the country, participation in mainstream politics is declining - a trend which is not good for democracy. It is apparent that we need to find new ways of increasing voter turnout and I am very interested in the attempts to increase postal voting and trials of e-voting options for the local elections. In this respect I am worried by the news that Wandsworth Council has decided not to support postal voting for all constituents - a decision was taken last July not be to one of the boroughs which would do this in the forthcoming local elections. I would like to ask the Council, why?

Wandsworth and Merton Legal Resource Project

I would like to highlight the good work of the Wandsworth and Merton Law Centre. They have achieved their stringent target of a 90% success rate in their work and increased the number of people helped by casework and representation by 44%. They have also been enormously helpful to me and to my caseworker in relation to particularly difficult cases we have had to deal with.

Tony Colman MP

For more information about what I've been up to and how to contact me go to my web site

Tony Colman MP

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November 19th, 2003

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