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Title: An evaluation of the contribution of the UK airport master planning system to more sustainable development
Author: Rawson, Rebecca Robyn
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2013
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Airport development is a highly controversial process with communities becoming increasingly aware of the negative impacts that air transport operations can have on the local and global environment. Such environmental impacts have the potential to constrain growth and cause airport community conflict, as well as posing operational challenges including scheduling problems and reduced runway capacity. Thus, if the air transport industry is to grow sustainably it must simultaneously meet the needs of society and contribute to economic development, whilst limiting damage to the environment. In response to this challenge, in 2003 the UK Department for Transport published the Government aviation policy document The Future of Air Transport which invited airports forecast to have a minimum of 20,000 air transport movements per year to produce a Master Plan that documented their development proposals to 2030, and the likely adverse social and environmental impacts. Airports were recommended to engage with stakeholders during this process, thereby facilitating a range of stakeholder groups' involvement in development processes. A review of key literature explores the air transport industry, stakeholder engagement, and environmental assessment procedures to provide a lens through which Master Plans can be assessed and best practice from the external procedures established. It was revealed that there is a clear connectivity between Master Plans, environmental management, and public participation; and as such the core outcomes that could be achieved from the strategic planning process include improved environmental performance, social learning and sustainable development. The content of the Master Plans produced by the airports owned and operated by BAA and Manchester Airports Group were reviewed to evaluate the methods employed by reference to the established best practice. From this, three initial case study airports were examined, Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester; followed by a fourth verification case study of Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Document analysis and interviews with key actors were utilised to explore the master planning processes, identify current practice and outline areas for improvement. Principle findings identified that Master Plans have the potential to yield more environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable development outcomes, however, this potential has largely not been realised. Master planning was hindered by the non-statutory nature of the master plan process; the flexibility afforded by the Department for Transport Master Plan Guidance; the absence of follow up or repercussions for poor master planning processes; and airports apparent reluctance to fully engage with stakeholders. It is therefore recommended that future master planning includes the publication of more prescriptive guidance; the provision of airport training to highlight the benefits of undertaking a comprehensive process; the introduction of repercussions if Master Plans fall below a certain standard such as an audit or a published review to identify poor practice; and the introduction of elements of environmental assessment procedure best practice. This thesis presents the most recent and comprehensive assessment of master planning for UK airports, advancing previous reviews through comparisons with external procedures. The research is both novel and timely particularly given the scope for policy changes within the UK air transport industry and the policy commitments to sustainable development. A significant contribution to knowledge is made through the original comparison between Master Plans and environmental assessment procedures and the subsequent establishment of criteria to enhance future master plans. Furthermore, the thesis contributes to the development of theories of participatory decision making and advances the debate on stakeholder engagement and its utility within the aviation sector, providing well-timed recommendations to both airports and policy makers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available