Posts Tagged ‘London airport’

Any New Runway Is Plane Stupid!

Monday, April 12th, 2021

On a day when some of our Covid restrictions are being eased and when more people are apparently thinking about overseas holidays, it’s perhaps appropriate to think about the impact of flying on the future of our planet and the need to curb the exponential growth of air travel, particularly by the increasing number of ‘frequent flyers’. Personally I signed the Flight Free UK pledge not to fly in 2020 – and events later made that easy to keep – and I’ve signed up again for 2021.

Back in April 12th 2015 I spent a pleasant day in Harmondsworth, where a day of action was taking place against the revived plans for a third long runway for Heathrow Airport. A few years earlier I’d covered the local celebrations in neighbouring Sipson after building the third runway had been ruled out because of its environmental impact.

Of course nothing has changed to lessen that environmental impact, but years of continued lobbying on a grand scale, including setting up a fake PR organisation with spurious surveys – and a short-sighted and biased commission to expand aviation in the UK led the government to put the runway back on the table again, despite the growing awareness of the need to urgently tackle the environmental crisis which the planet is currently rushing headlong into.

Harmondsworth is one of the Middlesex villages surrounding what in pre-war days had been the village of Heath Row, full of orchards and market gardens, that I cycled around in my youth in the 1950s, when the airport was smaller and less obtrusive with many less flights and those mainly be smaller and quieter aircraft. Back then it was possible to enjoy the peace and quiet and largely rural nature of the area, even in those places such as Longford and Colnbrook directly under the flightpath. Although the Comet began to change things so far as noise was concerned it was only really around 1960 with the widespread use of the Boeing 707 that peace was definitively shattered.

Harmondsworth is still very much a village, a small place on the edge of the River Colne, with no through traffic in its centre which has a small village green, two pubs, a fine church and the Grade I listed Great Barn, the largest medieval barn in England to have survived largely and remarkably intact – and was recently saved from dereliction by a local campaign which led to its purchase and restoration by English Heritage in 2011.

It was good to be able to visit the barn again – volunteers now keep it open on selected days – and to be able to wander through what John Betjeman described as “The Cathedral of Middlesex”. Later the Datchet Border Morris performed in the barn, and also outside the pub and in the recreation ground where a tree was planted. The Morris dancers I think give a greater sense of its scale.

Local politicians including John McDonnell who has been the area’s MP since 1997, but also all but one of the candidates (except one) standing for the seat in the then forthcoming election came along to speak at the rally on the airport’s proposed new boundary, just a few yards south of the village green – and including most of the housing in the village.

The one missing candidate also supported the rally and opposed airport expansion but there had been a mix-up over dates which made him miss the event. As Labour, the UKIP, Green and Conservative candidates all spoke to oppose any airport expansion, as did several local residents, and campaigner John Stewart of HACAN, and the five polar bears who had recently protested inside one of the Heathrow terminals came along with their banner ‘Any New Runway Is Plane Stupid‘.

Heathrow Villages fight for survival


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Hoo Dec 28th 2002

Monday, December 28th, 2020

Back in 2002 the idea of expanding the UK’s airport capacity was under serious consideration and living near Heathrow we were concerned and campaigning against the building of yet another runway at an airport that even then was seriously past its best-before date. Not just because of local considerations but also because of the environmental threat posed by the expansion of air traffic.

It was a fight we won – and celebrated winning in 2010, only to have it put back on the table a couple of years later with a biased report, then taken off again by a court ruling. More recently this court decision has been put aside by what looks rather like a legal fudge, but in the current climate – and more importantly the impending climate catastrophe any expansion seems totally unthinkable.

Back in 2002, there were other proposals for increasing air traffic, some more batty than others, also being put on the table, and one was for an airport on the Hoo peninsula in North Kent. We decided to go and take a look at the area as our long family after-Christmas walk. It was around 15 years since I’d photographed there and none of the others knew it.

Here’s my account written in 2002 (when I was still suffering from a shortage of capital letters) and all the pictures I posted on My London Diary then.


“we walked off some of christmas on the 28th, taking a look around Cliffe, proposed site for a new London airport. Probably not a serious proposition, just put up so that at some point the civil aviation lobby can say, ‘as we can’t possibly build at Cliffe, we will have to have another runway at Heathrow, and yet another terminal/vast shopping centre … Its long past time that we made airlines pay fuel duties and vat and tried actively to cut the growth in air travel, an incredibly wasteful method of transport with with vast subsidies that distort the world economy.

Higham
Shornmead Fort
 Thames path at Cliffe
Thames at Cliffe
Creek at Cliffe
Cliffe
Cliffe churchyard
Near Cliffe
Near Cliffe
Near Cliffe
Near Cliffe
Near Cliffe
Higham
Higham station

These pictures were among the first that I took with my first serious digital camera, a 6Mp Nikon D100 DSLR, which I had got only a couple of weeks earlier. I’m not sure why I didn’t post more of the roughly 100 pictures I took, or for that matter why I chose these particular group other than that some of them have posters opposing an airport being built here.

At the time I only had one Nikon fit lens, a mid range zoom, I think something like a 24-80mm, which, given the DX format sensor gave the equivalent of 36-120mm.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.