No Third Runway

Although the arguments for building an extra runway at Heathrow seem now to be even weaker than when it was ruled out back in 2009 and those of us who live near the airport celebrated, and the arguments against far clearer, well-funded lobbyists have managed to put it back on the political agenda, reviving what seems clearly a corpse. Politically it is quite a curious mixture, with some trade unions supporting airport expansion, along with aviation industry figures.

Brexit has also played a part, with prominent Brexiteers supporting expansion as necessary to increase our trade with the rest of the world after we leave Europe, though Boris Johnson who opposed the third runway when Mayor of London, and is now MP for Uxbridge, which would be adversely effected has promised if necessary to lie down in front of the bulldozers. Of course, as he was then Foreign Secretary and thus a part of the cabinet he would have been obliged either to vote for the Government motion or resign when the vote came on the Monday after these protests – and he conveniently found some mythical Foreign Office business to take himself out of the country.

A small group of people had been protesting with a two week hunger strike outside the Labour Party HQ (though they had been elsewhere when I went to try and photograph them) and most of them came to take part in both the Friday evening protest and on Saturday.

As I wrote in My London Diary in June:

“Heathrow expansion would be a disaster not just for those who lose their homes or would suffer increased pollution under the flight path in a city with already dangerous and often illegal levels of pollution thought to result in around 10,000 premature deaths in London each year, but will add the the already growing threat of irreversible climate breakdown that could threaten the future of human life on the earth.”

The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will I think change the game so far as aviation is concerned – as well as on many other issues, forcing even our current government to take more environmental issues far more seriously. Aviation is of course a global issue, and there will be considerable pressures from many other countries which are likely to make the growth forecasts on which the Heathrow decision was based totally absurd.

Despite the vote which came on the Monday following these protests it is very unlikely the third runway will ever be built.  Brexit and the economic crisis that will precipitate will almost certainly lead to its cancellation on cost grounds, and the disruption the building would cause to traffic around London is unthinkable. Politically also any attempt to go ahead with the project on the ground is likely to be impossible, and it seems almost certain that the next government – of whichever party or coalition –  will reverse the decision.

More at:
No Heathrow block Parliament Square
Vote No to Disastrous Heathrow Expansion

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