Its bizarre that Governments can set up groups to help resolve difficult decisions, and then when they have an answer, they prevaricate still further. This has the impact of making the review act as a delay and no more. Who would want to serve on any group that was unlikely to be listened to? The consequence is that Governments, already starved of wisdom and experience are prevented from getting the best contributions when they are prepared to ask for help. Governments regularly delay or bury reports that they have commissioned or as in this case choose to ignore them. That should be seen as a misuse of public funds and we should have some sanction against such actions.
Yesterday a brief twitter conversation challenged me to express my views on the Airport conundrum, I argued that I could not do it in 140 characters. However despite the offensive tweet by Graham Cox, I don’t subscribe to the following “don’t build here. Sack British workers, send their jobs to Holland & Dubai. You’ve made your position clear” My own views are focused on various issues, not simply is Heathrow or Gatwick right or wrong.
- There is no argument that Heathrow is at capacity. I also accept the idea that hub airports make sense on one level, and yet personally I don’t think about travel in a way that relies on national hubs. I fly rarely, but have made 3 flights to Germany in the last decade. All to the same destination. On one occasion my journey took me through Frankfurt. I would not choose to repeat that route.
- I am concerned that planes can fly using fuel that is taxed differently to the fuel that powers our trains and indeed our other public transport options. I am also concerned that cheap flights are promoted at the expense of our environment and potentially (if another runway is built) at the expense of those who live nearby.
- The idea that our nation needs to have its hub airport at its busiest and most contested land space seems to argue that whilst Heathrow Airport will always be an important transport link, that it is not the right place for our national hub.
- The argument that businesses would consider transferring their operations to hubs in another nation with very little provocation, seems to challenge the idea that our hub needs to be in or near London. If they would transfer to Madrid or Dubai or as Radio 4 suggested Dublin?? then a hub airport in Luton, Birmingham or Leeds etc is not really the obstacle we are led to believe. If we are to build new capacity (assuming that reducing cheap flights and tax skews still leaves us with that need) then lets do it where land is cheaper, more available and the environmental arguments work best.
- I love the experience of flying, but do so only occasionally. I have taken 10 return flights in the last 10 years. On the other hand I sit in a stationary vehicle under the flight path to Heathrow or drive under the Gatwick flight path, almost weekly. Whilst the congestion at Heathrow is not simply as a result of Airport traffic, but it is part of the reason. We need to consider the wider issues of our Governments decision.