In the last few years there has been an increasing row about whether Heathrow
Airport should get a 3rd runway. Heathrow is the busiest airport in the UK and
certainly one of the busiest, if not the busiest in Europe. It is, understandably, essential to London being seen as a hub of commerce and finance. However, its size and owner are quickly being seen as being unreliable, inefficient, anti-competitive and environmentally incompatible. Heathrow Terminal 5 was a disaster, resulting in massive baggage confusion and delays. So, it was with a sense of inevitable frustration when the 3rd runway was given the formal go ahead by the Government.
I’ve joined the Greenpeace Airplot scheme to help try and stop it, and I have
written the following to the government which I have sent to Number 10 via
Greenpeace’s site. If you want to submit your own and join the Airplot for
yourself, visit the Greenpeace
Dear Mr. Brown,
I would like to make my profound disappointment and frustration at your authorisation of the 3rd runway at Heathrow clear. It seems to me, and it seems much of the UK if various polls are to be believed (The Guardian http://tinyurl.com/axzuqk and The Evening Standard http://tinyurl.com/6wasaz), that this decision is
not only unpopular, but undemocratic and highly confusing.
I understand the business benefits that expansion of an airport can consolidate or increase London’s position in the world economy, we are after all, an island. However, that is difficult to reconcile with the current environmental requirements. It seems that the government are complicit with an aviation industry which is able to arrange itself in a highly influential manner to affect government policy in a way no other industry body
is able to do.
Airports are massive greenhouse gas generators and their expansion must be controlled at all costs. Your environmental policy and requirements you have signed up to are incompatible with any runway expansion, which makes schemes like this hypocritical. You are not leaving a super-airport and stable economy for our future generations, you are leaving a world of smog and pollution. No runway is environmentally clean. Your representations that only “clean” planes will use the facility is not convincing in the slightest. It seems you have “bought off” your fellow ministers such as Ed Milliband by adding this clause. The only “clean plane” is no plane.
Indeed, the way that your government has proceeded regarding decisions such as this, it is highly likely and almost inevitable that any rules, guidelines or quotas you will set in place for environmental, noise and economic impact will just be quietly weakened hoping the voting public don’t realise. It is ridiculous to think that any government would actively close a runway if quotas are not met, and I find it insulting to think that you believe we would believe that this would occur.
I notice form the promotion of the scheme that the carbon footprint that will be generated by this scheme hardly takes account of car use. This country is full with cars, and yet we continue to add more. A massive airport will generate a massive amount of cars. Your answer of opening hard shoulders on motorwars running into Heathrow is hardly a solution.
What Britain needs desperately to meet its environmental commitments, control its road use, reduce domestic air travel (thereby freeing up capacity in existing airports) and reduce the social and economic gap between the North and South of the UK is commitment and investment to rail. The benefits of Rail are as clear as clean air.
Rail is the most efficient and clean method of mass transit available, and is clean at the point of delivery. It is the safest method of mass transit available. But, your running of the rail industry is incompatible with reality. While other countries actively believe that the state has a key part to play in the rail industry as both a backer and as a subject of policy, the Labour Government appears to be micro-managing the rail franchises while reducing public subsidy for the railway. High Speed 1, the high speed rail link between St. Pancras and The Channel Tunnel proves that we can create High
Speed rail to European specifications and this must be expanded. High Speed 2, a
high speed line between London and Manchester/Leeds and possibly beyond is
essential. This will reduce motorway use, increase the number of paths for
freight to be carried by rail, reduce domestic flights and bring our cities
closer together. The Conservative government has committed to developing such a
rail link. You idea of a “Heathrow Hub”, while a welcome addition to any
transport infrastructure, is just sugar. Such a hub could be argued as being too
late anyway, otherwise there wouldn’t be the traffic issues seen on the roads in
I am pleased to add that I have also joined Greenpeace’s Airplot scheme, and will be delighted to add to the difficulties that you will doubtless experience over this unpopular and undemocratic decision.
Your execution of this scheme has been highly questionable. You have been complicit with a highly organised aviation industry, have not honoured democratic principles by having Parliamentary debates around the issue, have clearly somehow convinced your own ministers to change their opposition to the scheme and are riding rough shod over voters’ homes, businesses and future generations. I applaud John McDonnell’s demonstration of what democracy has become by removing the Ceremonial Mace from its position, He is right to believe that tricky decisions are increasingly made in private
cabinet meetings, a practice introduced by another Prime Minister responsible for unpopular, and later proved to be incorrect decisions, Tony Blair. While I am living in the Isle of Man, I will still be eligible to vote in the UK elections which are already overdue. I will be voting for policy, and that policy will be whoever comes up with a commitment to the environment and rail.
Nathan J Pledger