The Heathrow debate continues

I TOOK part in a radio debate on Today in Parliament this week, on the increasingly fraught subject of whether Heathrow should have a third runway. The debate starts at about 13 minutes in. Listen by clicking here.



Filed under Economy, Environment, Media

4 responses to “The Heathrow debate continues

  1. I listened to it at 5AM this morning, and I’m still wearing the grin I put on when you said we’d lose the next election.

    I look forward to replaying that clip back at you in a year’s time.

  2. Auntie Flo'

    I’m too tired now to dig out the figures, but the following is part of my objection to your views.

    1. Aviation is a highly fragile and unreliable catalyst for economic growth.

    Heathrow made around 24% of its staff redundant during the last recession.

    2. Aviation costs UK more than it generates, viz:

    Billions for:

    Taxpayer subsidies of fuel tax exemption

    Taxpayer subsidies of VAT exemption

    Taxpayer subsidies of cost of polluter pays exemption

    Balance of trade deficit – UK tourists spend billions more overseas than overseas tourists spend here

    Cost of damage to health

    Cost of environmental damage

    Cost to the planet – climate changing emissions

    Cost of squandered, dwindling oil reserves

    Cost of damage to business – try working with a jumbo above you

    Cost of damage to UK’s unsubsidised domestic tourist industry

    Cost to education – classes must have flight pauses

    3. Those who benefit from subsidies to aviation are frequent flyers, the richest 4%. The vast majority of us, including the poorest, many of whom never fly, pay more than we gain from cut price fares in order to subsidise these rich frequent flyers.

    4. Aviation kills far more jobs than it generates. Unsubsidised domestic tourism, which does not generate a balance of trade deficit, could create far in excess of its current million jobs if aviation didn’t take the business overseas and damage this industry.

    5. Health. Just one aspect. Research during the court case against night flights found that the sleep of the people of Heathrow is disturbed 16 times a night by night flights. This is inhuman, Tom.

    6. I live below the hell of the Stansted flightpath and it’s stressful misery. My family and I couldn’t bear to sit in our garden one summer. I have to work at home and often cannot concentrate to do so. We didn’t choose to live under a flightpath, by the way, the airport had few flights when we moved here.

    Before you ask, I haven’t flown for around 14 years.

    Why do you never address these issues, Tom?

  3. Auntie Flo'

    Another point. The DfT’s noise projection maps, allegedly showing areas affected by noise from Stansted Airport greatly understate the extent of the problem, both now and in the future.

    The DfT uses a 57 decibel (dBA) Leq contour line to mark the area within which it says there will be noise disturbance. This contour line indicates the area within which the daytime noise levels are, averaged over a year, higher than 57 decibels.

    Yet the Dft’s 57 dBA measure does not meet World Health Organisation (WHO) requirements. WHO states that aviation noise levels should not exceed 50 dBA Leq.

    Our local Campaign group, Stop Stansted Expansion, asked the DfT to produce maps showing the areas affected by the WHO’s 50 dBA Leq guideline, but they refused!

    Even more damning, the Dft’s dBA leq contours are totally distorted, inadequate and misleading noise disturbance measurements. Why? Because they AVERAGE noise levels over long periods, including periods of silence which counteract and reduce the periods of disturbance.

    That’s equivalent to the Dft claiming that if we’ve one foot in a bowl full of of ice and one foot in a bowl of scalding water, we’re just comfortable and in no danger.

    Thank God the Dft doesn’t measure flood risk, because, using their average measures, they would lump together periods of low rainfall and low flood risk with periods of high rainfall and high flood risk, average the two to tell us that we are perfectly safe when we’re just about to be flooded.

    The real world isn’t like that, Tom, nor is aircraft noise pollution.

  4. Mike Stephenson

    I live under the southern flightpath into Heathrow, in Hounslow. I hope I am not the only person who has noticed a dramatic, and I mean DRAMATIC, drop in the number of aircraft landing and taking off from Heathrow. Just looking at the skies at night, and noting the intervals between aircraft landing and taking off in the morning rush, I’d say flights are down by maybe even as much as 50%. Mixed mode is not affecting these conclusions either as I can see the northern flightpath from where I live. As far as I can work out, and this is not scientific, the business model to extend further the capacity at Heathrow has been shot to pieces by the people who use the aircraft and may never recover, given the oil shortages which will come. Also, flown twice to Europe on business since New Year, both flights packed full, that says to me that airlines are cutting flights and finally filling aircraft better – something they should have been doing years ago. I would urge the Government to check the REAL numbers before making a final decision. There is no expansion necessary, just better efficiency.

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