Photograph from: parliamentlive.tv
On 2nd November, Sir Bill Wiggin MP, Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire, called for consideration of airport parking charges in a Westminster Hall Debate.
Sir Bill argued that airports must provide free and safe drop-off options that are clearly signposted to prevent drivers being fined or charged extortionate amounts to drop off or collect friends and family.
The Minister from the Department for Transport responding in the debate, Mr Huw Merriman MP, was sympathetic to Sir Bill’s concerns over drop-off charges. He indicated that the motive for introducing these charges at airports was for sustainability and decarbonisation reasons.
Sir Bill highlighted the irony that the aviation industry should claim to be introducing airport parking charges for environmental reasons, when air travel is responsible for 2.5% of global carbon dioxide emissions.
Sir Bill Wiggin MP raised that with industrial action frequently affecting public transport, many people are left with no other option than to rely on friends or family to drop them off or collect them at the airport.
As a result, he argued that it is the drivers who suffer rather than holiday-makers, describing the drop-off charge as a “small tax on generosity”.
Mr Merriman did acknowledge that Bristol airport does not have rail links and therefore it was understandable that the majority of passengers arrive by car.
According to Sir Bill, “Bristol airport is one of the very worst offenders” with vans with cameras enforcing fines for stopping in red zones due to the confusing signage about where you can drop-off passengers for free.
Providing the example of charges at Bristol airport – one of North Herefordshire’s closest airports – Sir Bill highlighted that drivers are required to pay £5 for just 10 minutes or £7 for 20 minutes.
He added that for passengers who have mobility issues or young children, ten minutes might not be enough time for them to enter the barrier, find a space, unload baggage, say goodbye and exit the barrier.
During the debate, Sir Bill emphasised that “choice is the key”, stating: “I believe it is essential that airports provide free and safe drop-off and pick-up points for motorists, as well as clear and helpful signs.”
Mr Merriman agreed to raise with the aviation Minister that airports should ensure that drivers are well informed of the free parking options available.
Click here for a full transcript of the debate.