PLANS to expand Southampton Airport’s runway have come under fire amid concerns over their impact on climate change.

Campaigners have raised concerns over proposals to extend the airport’s runway by 164 metres.

The news comes as a second public consultation on revised plans has now been launched.

Airport bosses said the mitigation measures in the new plans are “enough” to protect the environment.

They stressed that the airport has become carbon neutral and warned that 2,000  jobs would be at risk and the future of the airport would not bee guaranteed if the plans are refused.

But in a statement campaigners from Airport Expansion Opposition (AXO), hit back and said: “A ‘carbon-neutral’ airport’ is like ‘fat-free lard’. It’s just not possible. We need to act now on climate change, and lower carbon fuels and electric planes capable of carrying significant numbers of passengers are decades away. The airport says extending the runway isn’t about ‘bigger planes’. But its own figures show that it is about flying many more of the bigger, noisier A320 jets than previously. The result of this is, as the new documents show, over 40,000 extra local people being exposed to aircraft noise .”

As reported, members of AXO opposed to the initial plans last year.

Airport bosses said the pandemic and the collapse of FlyBe hit the business.

Earlier this week, airport director Steve Szalay, said that while last year’s plans were all about growth the newly submitted proposals are about survival.

But AXO members said: “AXO does not believe the financial viability of Southampton Airport is in doubt. Even in the face of Covid-19 other airlines are already starting to take up Flybe’s routes. With this happening the airport’s revised economic assessment shows ‘neutral’ financial benefit to our region. Regional connectivity can be maintained with the airport as it currently is, and since most travellers are UK residents heading out on holiday most of the benefit of their travel will be abroad.”

But in a statement Southampton Airport said:  “The reality is the airlines backfilling FlyBe are still only about 20 per cent of our previous numbers.  Smaller aircraft, less passengers, ten routes – where previously we offered up to 30.  We are forecasting 200,000 – 300,000 by end of year whereas before we were hitting two million. Sustainability is at the heart of everything that we do, but the simple message is this: without the runway extension, the future of Southampton Airport is hugely in doubt and with that 2000 jobs, affecting thousands of local families.”