Daily Archives: January 15, 2009

Heathrow = Electoral Suicide (Hopefully!)

Well it’s been a busy couple of days in Westminster, we’ve had the frankly ludicrous assertion from Lady Vadera that we’re already seeing the green shoots of recovery from recession – announced ironically on, yet another, day of massive job cuts and announcements of long established firms falling into receivership, we’ve had the Ball’s up say that the ‘excuses culture’ won’t be tolerated anymore, presumably meaning that Schools and Academies will now follow the nulabour model of not apologising at all and then blaming the yanks, and we’ve had the contemptible attempts to hide expenses from the public by MPs with the week ending on the lunatic idea of creating a super–bad–bank from deep in the Brown bunker, presumably part of his plan to leave scorched earth when the voters kick him out.

And of course we’ve also the Heathrow decision, which has seen everything from Emma Thompson and Alistair McGowen threatening to go all swampy on us, to Labour MP John McDonnell running off with the parliamentary mace in protest at the lack of a vote in the house.

Heathrow is a funny one, I can see the economic arguments for better connectivity with the rest of the world – but, expanding Heathrow, as far as I see it at least, is entirely the wrong way of doing it. If we had joined up thinking we’d be looking at London’s airports as one large entity, joining up Stanstead, Luton, Heathrow and Gatwick with high speed transit which would allow them to operate as a proper hub, removing the need to expand Heathrow when Stanstead is the most obvious airport to expand in the coming 15 years.

But even before we think of expansion, the most clear way of clearing landing space at Heathrow would be to cut internal flights, it is outrageous that over 80 flights a day go between Birmingham and London, these journeys should be made on our railways, infrastructure that’s desperately needed money ploughed into it for years; and as for flights to and from Paris… for crying out loud we built the longest under–sea tunnel in the world to link us to Paris – people should be using Eurostar, it’s quicker (taking into account stacking and check-in/out times) than flying and it’s considerably more friendly to the world; just doing that would free up a tonne of landing slots, something the government could do quickly and effectively, but of course won’t do – because it’s fixated with air travel in an entirely unhealthy way.

What’s most concerning to me is the complete lack of attention given to the environment and public health which would seem to have been entirely ignored in the Government’s consideration of the Heathrow expansion; an expansion is going to almost double the number of flights stacked over the capital every year, it’s estimated that living under the flight path already shaves 6 years off the average life, what will a doubling in flights do? And while we’re on that doubling of flights when are Londoner’s going to sleep – I know they’ve conceded that ‘mixed’ operation (i.e 24 hour landings) won’t happen, but how long will that promise be kept, if at all? In the centre of town the stack releases a stream of traffic over Kensington & Chelsea at about 5 in the morning, and it does affect people’s sleep patterns, having also lived in Hanwell many years ago, the rumble was even more noticeable, god only knows what it must be like in Hounslow.

They’ve scored a massive own goal here if they think this is going to be a popular scheme, it’s the easiest option for them – it didn’t require joined up thinking, and it provides Brown with 60,000 jobs he can claim to have created out of thin air. I urge you to do whatever you can to protest against the expansion, not just in it’s physical form, but also at the contempt that the Government have shown for our democratic process, the London assembly seems united against it, most Londoner’s I know are cautious to completely opposed, and in an age where air travel is going to have to be thought long and hard about as we attempt to tackle climate change it is quite simply unbelievable that Labour have pushed this through with two fingers up to anyone that disagrees.

I do hope this battle is a long and sticky one, even more I hope it’s a final shot of poison to the Government that finishes their long-running electoral suicide.