Local MPs and environment group join forces to persuade transport secretary to scrap idea of new airport.
A coalition of politicians and interest groups is to urge transport secretary Alistair Darling to abandon plans for a £6.5bn airport in the West Midlands.

Andy King, MP for Rugby and Kenilworth, representatives from the Council for the Protection of Rural England and parish councils are seeking a meeting with Darling to put the case against the development, which would be about the size of Heathrow.

The group will argue that an airport would lead to the loss of green-belt land, the demolition of the villages of Church Lawford and Kings Newnham in Warwickshire, and increase noise pollution in Rugby and Coventry.

Darling announced the possibility of a West Midlands airport at the launch last month of a three-month consultation on aviation policy. The government wants to improve the country's infrastructure in anticipation of a tripling of air travel over the next 30 years.

Darling said: "The consultation identifies options including a new runway at Birmingham or at the East Midlands airport. A new site between Coventry and Rugby might be examined."

King wrote to Darling last week to ask for the meeting. He said: "I've spoken to a local parliamentary colleagues and community groups. They have asked me to arrange a meeting between the minister and interested groups."

The area is very fertile green belt. Birmingham airport should evolve to deal with the Midlands

Andy King, MP for Rugby and Kenilworth

He added that an airport would largely deal with overspill from the South-east, rather than increasing regional demand. He said: "The area is very fertile green belt. Birmingham airport should evolve to deal with the Midlands."

The coalition is angry that local MPs and parish councils were not forewarned about the airport. King's constituency office says it has received letters from residents complaining that they have been unable to sell their homes after the announcement.

There are concerns that an airport would lead to the abandonment of research into organic agriculture at Ryton-on-Dunsmore in Warwickshire. Last year, environment minister Michael Meacher halted trials of genetically modified crops in the area because of the risk to this work.

Groups in favour of expanding the East Midlands and Birmingham airports are against the Rugby scheme because they claim it would lead to the closure of these facilities.