Manchester City Council

Get Britain Building

First stop this morning is Manchester Central for the opening of the Greenbuild Expo, an exhibition and conference dedicated to promoting sustainable construction (on today and tomorrow) and then I join the National President of the Federation of Master Builders plus representatives from the Modern Masonry Alliance and the Builders Merchant Association in the trade launch of the Get Britain Building campaign.

Construction employs over two million people directly with many more millions in other industries supplying or dependent on construction. Historically construction is the first industry to get hit at a time of recession and the first to lead us out. I mentioned last week the Council's school building programme, one of a number of things we are doing to keep Britain building but more could and should be done. One of the key proposals of the campaign is to reduce VAT on home improvements to 5%, something Manchester City Council has supported for many years. Interestingly the campaign says that " trials " in France and Germany have shown that the Treasury would gain rather than lose from such a measure as increased income tax, corporation tax, business rates etc would more than outweigh the loss of VAT revenue and it would help create thousands of real jobs at the same time vastly improving the quality of our building stock throughout the country. Seems like a Win-Win to me.

Sticking with the building theme, later this afternoon the Town Hall Complex Members Review Panel meets for the first time to see where we are up to with the scheme to refurbish the Town Hall extension and Central Library, vastly improve St.Peter's Square, and find a new and better home for the Library Theatre. At the core of this are the objectives of improving services and access to services for Manchester residents, securing the future of some of our most important buildings for future generations, and making that corner of town a more pleasant place to be i.e. more attractive for residents, visitors and business.

It's a long day, finishing tonight at Manchester Airport to celebrate the unveiling of the " new " Manchester Airport. Users of the airport will have noticed massive improvements of late, not least to the security areas which have made it far quicker and easier to use. International connections through Manchester Airport are one of the most important building blocks not only of the Manchester economy but of that of the whole of the North of England. If we are to tackle climate change environmental concerns about aviation cannot be ignored but trying to stop people flying is not the answer.

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There are 17 responses to “Get Britain Building”

  1. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    The council's stated position with regard to the airport is a world class example of doublethink:

    'The City Council believes that global rates of air traffic growth are unsustainable in the long term but believes that it is not a realistic option for individual airports or cities to suppress their growth unilaterally ahead of international agreements that lead to orderly, market-based reductions in overall emissions and the contraction in air travel that they may bring about. For this reason, the City Council will continue to support the Airport’s growth plans while strongly advocating the inclusion of aviation and shipping emissions within the scope of a comprehensive international carbon cap-and trade mechanism.'

    Manchester Core Strategy: Manchester Airport Issues Paper, April 2009

    In other words, we know that air travel in its current form is doing enormous and possibly irreparable damage to the planet, but we're not going to do anything about it because this would damage the economy.

    We are truly doomed.

  2. Kay Rad Says:

    Actually stopping people flying IS exactly the answer!
    I agree trying to get people to give up their hard earned annual holiday abroad is not the way forward - but do people really need to fly to Dublin for the day for £1 or to fly from Manchester to London for a business meeting when Virgin trains offer an excellent service or to fly to the Alps when Eurostar offers a great alternative, or fly to some random destination in Europe that Ryanair chooses to go to for £1 - just because its £1 and not because you actually want to visit that place or go to the continent 3 times per year when there are great nearby alternatives in the Lakes, Cornwall, the Norfolk Broads they do not. Its not about denying people their holidays, or even denying their right to fly - SOMETIMES - its about curbing unnecessary travel when there are viable alternatives and making people realise there are great things to do closer to home.

  3. Kayrad Says:

    p.s. I'm sure everybody is pleased to hear the security area improvements at Manchester Airport are now in place - when you have to fly you want it to be a smooth a journey as possible!

  4. Gary Says:

    What is the answer then?
    Your final point is something that gets said by politicians and leaders all over the world; acknowledging environmental issues but pretty much saying the economy is more important.
    Its worrying that the leader has this attitude.

  5. mahatma Says:

    The following is taken from the Call to Real Action document submitted to the Council in April 2009:

    The claims that are made for the role of aviation in encouraging inward investment to the region are not supported by the data. Studies show a much higher outflow of funds from the UK than funds coming into the country. This deficit is enough to account for the loss of 165,000 jobs each year in the North West.

    Tourism cash flows reveal a similar story. Those tourists leaving the UK spend far more abroad than those tourists entering the UK - thus tourism is a net drain on the UK economy.

    The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has predicted that the UK's aviation emissions alone could exceed Government's traget for the country's entire output of greenhouse gases in 2050 by upto 13%

    I also note with dread that there are plans to build an Airport Mini City. Go Sustainability! I can only hope that delegates from the Greenbuild Expo win the construction tender?!

  6. Gayle O'Donovan Says:

    We cannot expand airports and tackle climate change according to the UK’s top climate scientists….. we just can’t. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research predicts that the UK’s aviation emissions alone could exceed the government’s target for the country’s entire output of greenhouse gases in 2050 by up to 13%.
    No one is saying lets stop all flying. What we are saying is stop expanding airports, let’s take the initiative and stop passing the buck. The Council should stop expanding Manchester Airport. Not shut it down, just halt its growth; Cap emissions at Manchester Airport. MAG can set an annually reducing cap on the CO2 levels from the flights that it facilitates. It will be up to the airlines how they can accommodate this regulation;

  7. Nigel Woodcock Says:

    Ohmygod. He attended a "Greenbuild conference". This is the man whose Council turned down the option of free solar panels on the roof of the Aquatics Centre because it would have slowed down production and cost a few thousand quid. Shocking hypocrite.

  8. Ali Says:

    I agree with Gayle, it's quite disingenuous to frame the debate about aviation as a choice between the extremes of unfettered growth and stopping people flying.

    The first thing we need to do is acknowledge that Manchester has to take responsibility for our share of the emissions from the flights that our residents take and that contribute towards our economy, and include these emissions in our carbon budgets.

    The question we should really be asking then becomes: how can we maximise any economic benefits that aviation might bring while operating within the constraints of our emissions reduction obligations?

    Given that a strategy based on unfettered growth clearly fails to meet the emissions constraint, what are your views on the alternative proposal of capping emissions from flights at today's levels and adjusting the balance of business and leisure flights to maximise the economic benefits to the region?

  9. Callum Says:

    Given that the role of Government is to achieve the independent and mutually supporting goals of economic, environmental and social progress, policy relating to climate change and airport growth needs to consider:
    • the role that aviation plays today and will play in the future in supporting the development of the Manchester City Region and the wider Global socio-economy.
    • the potential for delivering those services in a low carbon way - while some short distance travel can be transferred to high speed rail, long distance high speed transport can only be delivered by air.
    • whether constraining airport growth will actually limit the growth in aviation climate change emissions or whether this will be achieved through improvements in aircraft technology.

    By constraining aviation growth there is a risk that Governments would fail to plan for ongoing global mobility, in the event that ‘carbon free’ or ‘low carbon’ flight were realized.
    The solution is not, therefore, a simple one.

  10. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    I agree, Callum, it's not simple at all. In fact, what we have here is a classic 'prisoner's dilemma' - a situation that has been discussed by economists since the 1950s in which individuals making the right decision for themselves make the worst possible decision for everybody. The council's solution to this famously knotty problem, however, appears to be a form of Micawberism: a vague hope that 'something will turn up'. It's more honest than setting targets, at least.

  11. Megan Says:

    “the role that aviation plays today and will play in the future in supporting the development of the Manchester City Region and the wider Global socio-economy.”…..can you back any of this up with hard facts besides some nebulous multiplier effect figures? What about the real costs of expanding airports i.e. air quality, noise pollution, climate change, outward investment, the tourist deficit?

    “whether constraining airport growth will actually limit the growth in aviation climate change emissions or whether this will be achieved through improvements in aircraft technology”. …we have been waiting for a magical techno fix for too long; the ‘silver bullet’ to stop climate change hasn’t appeared. There are real tangible things we can do now, to curb emissions from the fastest growing high carbon industry, aviation.

    “By constraining aviation growth there is a risk that Governments would fail to plan for ongoing global mobility, in the event that ‘carbon free’ or ‘low carbon’ flight were realized”….that statement is utterly repugnant. While you cross your fingers and hope for the best, the rest of us are going to do our best to meet our Climate Change Bill commitments.

  12. Roy Says:

    As Gayle said, stopping airport expansion is a necessary first step. Stopping domestic flights could be part of that. We also need to devote serious resources and attention to developing alternatives to flying - in particular more efficient, cheaper and publicly owned rail services.

  13. Dave Says:

    As Roy states a better train service I tried to get a train to the South West the cost over £200.00 from Manchester. The cost of the Flight would have been £50.00. Why should I pay over priced rail fares. I would love to travel by rail but its overpriced and until its sorted you can all talk about stopping flying but it will not happen.

  14. Clive Says:

    £200? If you turn up on the day and try to get a train ticket as far away as the South West then it will always cost a fortune. If you book in advance you can get absolute bargains on the train. The same goes with flying. Though I doubt very much that a last minute flight costs less than a train.

  15. Richard Leese Says:

    An interesting and important debate to which I'd like to add a few comments. Firstly improvements in rail services to London have already seen a dramatic decrease in the number of people flying for that journey to the extent that services to London City Airport have ceased altogether. So one answer is to provide people with more sustainable transport alternatives which is why I'm supporting a campaign for a high-speed rail network that would make most internal flights and many to near Europe redundant.Secondly there are things Manchester Airport can do, and has been asked to do to reduce emissions through efficient management of the airport, eg minimising taxi-ing time, and they have also been asked to look at measures similar to those they took to reduce noisy aircraft to incentivise cleaner planes, penalise dirtier. However carbon compensation can only really be tackled internationally. Thirdly one of the conclusions of the recently published Manchester Independent Economic Review was that we do need to continue to nurture the Airport. It is a large employer and it spawns an even bigger amount of airport related employment. More importantly international connectivity is at the heart of our economic prospects and that's not about charter flights to popular sunspots, but about city to city connections to other key economic and population centres.

  16. ABU Says:

    So the economy is more impotant than the environment then?
    I have read the economic review and i disagree with it whole-heartedly. I am with bicolouredpythonrocksnake on this- you cannot agree that airport expansion will contribute to damaging the environment and then say but if we don't then others will, leaving us behind.
    I realise its an independent review but that doesn't make it right. In fact it is sooooooo wrong it makes me wonder whether i could become a rich consultant and be paid to release total tripe

  17. Dave Says:

    I love all this hand ringing from the liberal class's, the way to stop people flying is to raise the cost so only the good middle class's can fly like they did in the good old days. Forget the fact that normal people work hard all year and deserve a holiday and your telling them not to from your lovely homes BTW you don't have cars sitting in your drives do you.



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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