Third runway -again

1280px-heathrow_lon_04_07_77The UK government in its wisdom has made a decision about a third runway at Heathrow.  This is a repost from four years ago which gives a mild indication of how long this third runway saga has been going on.  Little has changed in the arguments being used on either side.  There are a few points I would like to add to the original post below.  I grew up under a flightpath.  In fact when my Dad was working in Ireland my mum would go into the garden, look up into the sky to look for an Air Lingus flight and and then pack us into the car to go and pick my dad up from the airport.  I recognise that aircraft have got quieter as they have got more fuel efficient.  When I was a child when one went overhead you really couldn’t hear anything.  However as I write below noise is still a real issue.  The second change since 2012 is awareness of the general pollution problem around Heathrow.  I’m not talking about CO2 and climate change, although the two are linked.  I’m talking about particulate pollution.  To be fair much of this is not from the aircraft directly but traffic movement within and around the airport.  The pollution levels break international much less national laws.  There are also safety issues if you were planning where to put an airport today it would be where Heathrow is.  The third runway will also mean the demolition of some historic buildings plus a whole communities houses.

There are three groups of people concerning airport expansion in general and a third runway in particular; those who support it, those who think it should go somewhere else (i.e Gatwick) and those like me who think its time to end airport expansion completely.

Original post

“I think a few points need to made here, referring to some articles in today’s print edition of the guardian.

This whole issue goes way beyond climate change. The climate arguments and growth forecasts for air travel are covered well in the print edition of the paper. The problem is no takes into account peak oil. You can argue about exactly when the peak will occur but there cannot be many people who think things will be anything they are as now in 2050, apart from apparently politicians and the airline industry. The Department for transport thinks there will be a 250% increase in demand by 2050. Who are they kidding? The business lobby say we cannot survive without another runway.

The sustainable airline council (SAC)?!! think they can use 40% biofuels.  We cover this in some detail in our book. Its impossible, and we would (as Christians) immoral to demolish rainforest so we can drive (don’t forget this as well) or fly. The problem is land area.  As we have covered in the book/blog we are going to have a struggle enough to feed ourselves with oil production having peaked much less if we use biofuels. (See David Strahan’s site for details if you haven’t bought our book.) SAC probably mean 2nd generation biofuels or algae.  But this would still need a considerable land area and energy inputs for processing.

There is another argument that Boris is using and that is noise. When I was staying in London a few days ago I was under a flightpath. At 05:30ish the noise started and continued every two minutes. We went to Amsterdam a few years ago and we visited a lake for swimming.  This was under the Schiphol flightpath.  Every minute or so planes were flying in so low they were skimming the tops of the trees. The racket was enormous (and I recognise that planes have got much quieter I grew up under a flightpath).

To sum up everyone is playing games here. Boris knows that could cost him the mayoral election but wants to put another runway somewhere else. The airline surely cannot believe in biofuels etc. but I believe think this will give them cover to do what they want (and give government cover).

Business and government have got to recognise the oil age is coming to an end and its not completely replaceable, they must know this, but do not want to say so since to admit to it opens a whole can of worms…  Such as SE England’s economy is going to have to do without flying (eventually).”

Neil

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