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SCOTLAND: Lib Dems launch new aviation policy

March 28, 2004 2:00 AM

easyJet Boeing 737-300 Aeroplane on airport runwayScottish Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Cross-Border Transport John Barrett MP today called on the Scottish Executive to champion high speed rail links between Scotland and the South of England to provide greener alternatives to air travel.

Mr Barrett was speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference on the motion Aviation and Airports, which develops party policy following the publication of the Air Transport white paper.

Mr Barrett told conference that:

"There is no doubt the Government's white paper left many people very disappointed, especially over the lack of priority given to air-rail substitution. Rail policy and aviation policy are not and must not be treated as mutually exclusive.

"Air transport, and short haul flights especially, are some of the most polluting forms of transport. Providing good, reliable high speed rail links between Scotland and London and Europe would not only provide better, more environmentally friendly alternatives to these flights but could free up runway capacity for the direct international flights we all want to see coming to and from Scotland. The Scottish Executive has an opportunity to fill the void left by the Westminster Government by being the champions of air rail substitution."

Mr Barrett also called on the Scottish Executive to review airport regulations to try and curb the costs of flying to the Highlands and Islands. He added:

"Quite simply, these flights are a lifeline service to communities in places like Shetland and Western Isles. However, the cost of the flights put the services beyond the reach of the many of the people who need them most. The Scottish Executive have to look at this issue carefully and see what can be done to protect these air links and make them more affordable."