I’m not sure that this is the picture that MP John McDonnell would want to put on his election leaflets, but it did amuse me – and some of his constituents who were there with him at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 to voice their opposition to the expansion of the airport and in particular the building of another runway – the so called ‘third runway’ which will go through their village and mean they are forced out of their homes.
I don’t like airports. I grew up under the flightpath to the main runway (I think in those days it had five runways, but they abandoned some and built a terminal on another) with planes passing over just out of reach, and for a while was a keen aircraft spotter writing down their numbers in my book. They weren’t hard to spot – you needed to look through the wrong end of binoculars to see the whole plane.
Seeing some going over with flames from the engines led to nightmares but fortunately I think it was only in these dreams that I saw and heard them crash. But back in those days of the Brabazon and Comet, aviation was a brave and exciting new frontier and I was caught up in its glamour, thrilling in visits to the airport where my oldest brother worked and I actually got to go in a plane, and later with him to the Fanrborough air show.
But when I grew up I studied science and became interested in the environment, and even over 40 years ago it was obvious that we had to do something about airports and air travel – and now you have to really stick your head in the sand not to believe it.
Last week’s announcement approving the expansion of Heathrow and the building of a third runway from transport minister Geoff Hoon came as a shock – how can any government be so stupid? But the protesters who came to Heathrow’s T5 on Saturday are determined to keep up the campaign to stop it, and it seems more than likely it will never be built.
For the planet’s sake I hope it isn’t.