An independent cross-party commission should be formed to take the party politics out of decisions on airports and aviation.

The call comes in a report out today (Wednesday) from the left-wing Fabian Society, which finds widespread disapproval from members of the public of aviation policy decisions being made to further short-term political aims rather than focusing on the long-term needs of the country.

It echoes the sentiments of former transport secretary Lord Adonis, who told the ITT conference in Barbados that the government should set up an independent inquiry into airport policy.

‘Everyone On Board: Bringing the public into the aviation debate’ explores public attitudes to aviation policy and sustainability through focus group research.

The report also demonstrates that while consumers are sceptical about the ability of governments to make the right long-term decisions for airport and aviation policy, they strongly support governments taking a lead on tackling the environmental costs of aviation.

The report recommends that government should take into account this evidence and include international aviation emissions within UK carbon budgets.

The research stage of the project was funded by a grant from the pro-flying organisation Flying Matters.

Key recommendations are:
•       Government should establish an independent cross-party commission to review the future of aviation and airport capacity policy.
•       Government should convene a group that contains academics, industry and environmental NGOs to develop an evidence base to inform aviation policy.
•       Government should consider the use of “citizens’ juries” to provide greater public engagement with contentious issues of airport planning.

Fabian Society senior researcher and report author Natan Doron said: “Political debate about airports and aviation is worryingly focused on the short term.

“It is clear from our research that by engaging in these kinds of debates, politicians are seen to be abdicating their responsibility to the public to develop responsible policy.

“Aviation must stop being used as a party political football if we are to see aviation policy that help delivers economic growth in a sustainable manner.