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FARNBOROUGH 2008: UK won’t shirk tough airport decisions, says Minister

UK government minister John Hutton pledged that the government will take “difficult decisions” on airport expansion and will not shirk its responsibilities to secure an “easy ride from green lobby groups”.

Hutton, secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform (BERR) made his remarks at yesterday’s official opening of the air show.

His remarks are particularly relevant as the British government is due to make a decision by the year end on whether to go-ahead with a third runway at London’s overcrowded and widely reviled Heathrow Airport.

 John Hutton

“Because we understand the importance of air travel to the British economy, my pledge is that we will continue to show leadership and commitment in advancing the sustainable aviation agenda,” he says, adding that its aim is to help make flying greener rather than restricting people’s opportunities to fly altogether.

“So we will take the difficult decisions on airport expansion to ensure the UK has the transport infrastructure to attract business from across the globe.”

Hutton also paid tribute to the Farnborough air show as it celebrates its diamond anniversary and the airfield itself marks a century since it was the site of the first powered flight in the UK.

“On October 16, 1908, American Samuel Cody – a former cowboy and gold prospector – flew 1,309ft from this site. Those 27 seconds transformed people’s lives and the global economy. It created a global industry that today is worth more than £200 billion and generates, in the UK alone, £20bn annually, employing more than 124,000 people.

“During the next seven days, Farnborough will play host to more than 1,480 companies, from 35 countries and will welcome an anticipated 270,000 visitors and 1,800 media representatives.”

“Everywhere you look in this massive venue, you’ll find some of the world’s best design and manufacturing, technology and engineering in use - all building on the ambition of the 50 horsepower Antoinette engine and twin chain-driven propellers that powered Cody’s primitive machine.”

Hutton concluded by talking about the American pilot Edward Rickenbacker, who once said that aviation is proof that, given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible. “The technology and skills, innovation and enterprise on show here prove that statement beyond doubt.”