Nothing overwhelming except the damage

Simon Jenkins: A runway for jobs? It’s time aviation’s bluff was called (The Guardian)

An excellent opinion piece on the stream of lies and broken promises which have led to the proposal for the third Heathrow runway, which the Government is expected to approve. New Labour has a long history of giving into “Big Carbon”:

Brown will do what his predecessors have done, which is lie. In the 1960s ministers promised “for all time” that there would be no expansion of Heathrow. It expanded. When T4 opened in 1978 there was another promise of no expansion, and a cap of 275,000 flights. The pledge was broken within a year. At the time of T5 the cap was raised to 480,000, and the prime minister and cabinet agreed that a third runway would be “totally unacceptable”.

That promise is now broken. In 2006 the transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, promised that a new runway would be a short, domestic one, with flights only over countryside to the west. She also promised carbon and pollution limits. Those promises have been broken. The government wants almost to double the number of Heathrow flights to 700,000, an astonishing increase on the present chaos, and careless of the impact on west London or its infrastructure. This is an orgy of planning abuse. No Heathrow promise is worth a bucket of spit.

Ministers lie because they know they will be out of office, or out of sight, when their pledges are broken. They know that no government can bind its successor and that Big Carbon, like Big Pharma, always gets its way. When we were young we were told that new airports could go anywhere because new planes would be so clean and quiet that nobody would mind. It was all rubbish.

G2 also had a feature on the places which are likely to be bulldozed, or rendered virtually uninhabitable, by this monstrous scheme. I think it’s madness to expand an airport which is already huge, which already has two full-size runways and is right on the edge of a major city with flightpaths running right over the suburbs. Rather than bulldozing more houses or farms to build runways, they should build (or improve) rail links between the four full-blown international airports London already has - which would only actually involve improving a few junctions, not building vast new lines.

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  • Thersites

    They should put aviation fuel duty at the same rate as fuel for motor cars, retsrict City Airport to the originally agreed level of flights and install S.A.M.s automatically launched by exceptionally loud aircraft. Just a few modest proposals…

  • George Carty

    I disagree with Monbiot and the other anti-flying environmentalists (I say that no-one should criticize any other sources of CO2 as long a single fossil-fuel power station remains in operation), but why not Gatwick or Stansted?

    Heathrow already has two runways while the other two airports only have one, and expanding either of those other airports would destroy less property than expanding Heathrow.

  • Thersites

    “I say that no-one should criticize any other sources of CO2 as long a single fossil-fuel power station remains in operation” Even accepting that, the expansion of London’s airports- ANY of London’s airports- is an aditional source of CO2 and other forms of environmental damage to those already existing.