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Monday, December 08, 2003

Expansion or consolidation?

The campaign to stop the expansion of Swansea Airport has been a dishonest one from the start. Campaigners have made a number of outrageous and inaccurate claims to give the impression that the airport is to start receiving Jumbo jets, that it is to expand into the area of outstanding natural beauty and destroy at least one SSSI, and that it is to become a major rival to the International Airport at Cardiff. If they have made the effort to find out the real facts then they have given no indication that they have done so in their statements. From my discussions it is clear that there are no plans to expand the airport outside of its present boundaries. To do so would require planning permission, which would not be forthcoming specifically because of the AONB and the SSSI. If the airport cannot be expanded in this way then there is no way that the larger jets can ever land there - another myth exploded. It is also true to say that the airport as it presently exists needs upgrading to meet Civil Aviation Authority guidelines on health and safety. Hence, the closing of one runway and the shortening of another, the building of new facilities and a process of consolidation to make the airport an attractive proposition to passengers. I am not opposed to air travel but I do not want to see a major airport in Gower. It is right that if we were starting again then Swansea Arport would be situated elsewhere, but that is not a practical or cost-effective option. Neither is closing the present airport. Over 100 jobs are dependent on this airport, it is a major contributor to the local economy, the new routes are key to attracting businesses to the Swansea area and it is increasingly putting the City on the map. And yet still those protesting against it continue to mislead. Their latest stunt is to link up with protestors against the expansion of Heathrow airport. In doing this they are perpetuating the big lie that their whole campaign is based on, that the present owners of Swansea Airport plan to turn it into something much bigger that will swamp Gower. They really must think we were born yesterday, but will the owners of Swansea Airport please join in this debate and start to correct the propoaganda? Some of us are tiring of defending them without their assistance.

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