A vote was held at its conference in Glasgow today, where members overwhelmingly rejected the bid to open the way for the party to back expansion at Gatwick after the general election in May.
Members rebuffed the leadership’s bid to introduce conditional backing for a second landing strip at the world’s busiest single runway gateway in return for blocking Heathrow enlargement.
Much debate in the UK has centred on whether politicians will vote against aviation capacity expansion, and some politcal commmentators say it leaves leaders of the Liberal Democrats little room for manoeuvre in a coalition if the Airports Commission supports a second runway at Gatwick.
Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, has claimed progress in aircraft fuel and noise technology make it possible for the party to support airport expansion at Gatwick, while maintaining its environmental commitments.
Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), says the trade body for UK airports is “naturally disappointed” about the party’s pre-manifesto ruling out airport expansion.
“Aviation is crucial to UK plc, supporting one million jobs, £50 billion in GDP and £8 billion in treasury revenues, and the party’s position fails to realise the economic and connectivity benefits a growing aviation sector can deliver for UK plc, nor the enormous strides the industry is taking to deal with its carbon and noise impacts.
“We continue to urge the Airports Commission to stick to its timetable, report soon after the general election next year, and for the political parties to act on its recommendations, when published,” Caplan explains.
The Airports Commission will publish a report by the end of the year on the three options it has shortlisted for aviation runway expansion in the South East, before making recommendations after May’s general election.