Posted by: iangilbert | April 2, 2012

Support for Southend Airport

As I write, the first EasyJet flight from Southend airport should have reached it’s destination, Belfast. It’s an important day for the town.

Support for the expansion of Southend Airport is controversial. I know that being consistently supportive of the airport expansion I might risk alienating some of my green-minded colleagues and voters.

To be honest I’ve always been someone who thinks that the growth of air travel needs to be curbed. As someone who considers man-made climate change a scientific fact and probably the greatest challenge our generation faces we need to get to grips with this.

However, jobs and employment (or lack of them) was what drove me to get involved in politics in the first place. Growing up in mid nineties and knowing people being made redundant, knowing that might not be easy for the people I was leaving school with to find jobs was an important part of why I first went out to support the Labour Party. A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work is at the core of what our party stands for.

Having seen various Conservative schemes for regenerating Southend come and go (who remembers Anna Waite’s super-casino bid now? What about the marina?) the airport seems to be the only real thing that’s creating a buzz in the local economy and that has real potential to bring jobs and money into the town. Contrary to what people on the right might want you to believe there are plenty of people genuinely looking for work who are struggling to find it. Countless more survive on fewer hours than they might like. The statistical evidence referenced here is backed up by some eloquent personal testimony.

Perhaps it’s only my desire to square this circle that leads me to say that there’s nothing logically inconsistent about wanting an overall reduction in air travel, whilst wanting a greater share of what air travel there is to be through our local airport. There is evidence to say that there are less emissions per flight at small regional airport than at a huge terminal due to less congestion, time spent stacking etc.

In any case, I think it’s highly ironic that the Conservatives are boasting about the airport as a Tory success when the Tory MP for (at least part of) the airport is still opposed to airport expansion. I think it said a lot about David Amess that he wanted to show up for a photo opportunity to celebrate the opening of something that he is opposed to, but there you go. I suppose it’s no more hypocritical than an avowedly Eurosceptic MP petitioning the EU to overrule a decision of a council controlled by his own party…



  1. i also agreee that Southend Airport is a benefit to the town and the increase of good quality employment would also benefit the town financially. However, I am concerned about the David Amess not wanting Southend Airport to expand – I will guarantee he will not oppose his party when he has to vote against the Boris Island /Estuary Airport!!!

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