Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Heathrow Debacle

I didn't get to see today's PMQs. I missed it. Sorry about that. I'll post the video later.

Instead just a short word about the Heathrow decision unveiled yesterday. This blog is opposed to the expansion of Heathrow. It is opposed because this is short termism of the classic British variety. Yet it is short termism of a peculiar kind. It will take forever to get built, it solves few problems, creates many more (not least what you do with the M25) pushed the can further down the road but at the same time kicks it into somebody's greenhouse smashing the thing to smithereens.

The best thing that you can say about this decision is that Theresa May's Government has at least made a decision. It may seem like the obvious decision, yet all it does is store up problems for the future. Heathrow is a disaster of an airport. It is in the wrong place and hemmed in by homes all around it and by London to the east.

The Government is now going to undertake some consultation. Why? We've been consulting about it for decades. We know all of the problems, we know all of the dangers, we know that this runway will be built and will immediately be full and the airport will then start demanding another terminal. Eventually we will be told that a fourth runway is needed and that it would be disastrous for the economy if we do not build it.

This decision has been made for understandable reasons. Yet it is going to be a political nightmare to navigate and will be delayed by endless protests and legal challenges. There is still a very good chance that it will never be built.

The idea of Boris island was a good one because it would have solved all of these problems. Land to the east of London is less congested and there is sea on the other side. Or there is the option of expansion of any of the other airports around London or further north in Birmingham. Heathrow is a bad decision made because the Government has been kidded into thinking that Heathrow expansion is vital for the economy. It isn't. We need more capacity in the south east. We do not need it to be at Heathrow.

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