Third Heathrow Runway: Concreting over the countryside.

The Telegraph is getting worked up about the vetoing of Heathrow expansion by the Court of Appeal. Why, they wonder, should a small number of climate activists get in the way of our national economic needs – in other words, the needs of globetrotting business executives and tourists? But it’s not only climate activists, along with anyone who attributes global warming to human causes, like aircraft, who will be pleased. The Court decision is great news today for the million people whose daily lives are blighted by Heathrow Airport.  

Though I have since moved away, I was brought up close to the flight paths. I didn’t mind the deafening roar of Concorde at midday because it was beautiful to look at, and a great technical achievement. One grows accustomed to the noise, though I have memories of everyone fleeing the garden on summers’ afternoons. Conversation was impossible. But when I returned to the area as a young house hunter, I visited two properties – one in Feltham and one in Isleworth – that were directly under the flight paths. They had plenty of charm, that is, for the few minutes until the first plane came over. The noise was appalling. Then I researched the pollution, the ‘circle of poison’ that surrounds airports for miles around, much of it generated by aircraft manoeuvring on the ground. It made grim reading. No place to raise a family, that was for sure.    

There are arguments for and against. But my understanding is that much of the Heathrow traffic could be relocated to Gatwick and Stansted, which lie in relatively sparsely populated areas, and which could be provided with fast links to Central London. Alternatively, tax aviation fuel and make air travellers pay the full economic and environmental cost of their journeys. That should cut passenger traffic by ninety per cent.

If this country were China, the third runway, and a fourth, and a fifth, could easily be built at Heathrow. The M25 could be widened to twelve lanes. Neighbouring villages for miles around could be bulldozed. Noise, pollution and congestion would be intolerable, but it would not matter. All could be sacrificed in the collective interest.

However, this is England, where people and communities, where tithe barns, old pubs, ancient manor houses and medieval churches (Harlington, Bedfont, Harmondsworth), matter – or should matter – as much as establishment and business interests. Boris or no Boris, our church organist is planning to lie under the bulldozers. I shall be honoured to join her.

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12 Comments on Third Heathrow Runway: Concreting over the countryside.

  1. I wonder how many schoolchildren could be persuaded to play truant in order to protest against the destruction of a tithe barn. Many thousands, I’m sure, if only they’d been indoctrinated in traditionalism instead of cultural Marxism.

    Good luck with your protest. If a strange alien man calling himself Ford Prefect tries to persuade you to give it up because the planet is about to be destroyed, ignore him. And if a strange alien girl calling herself Greta Thunberg tries to persuade you to give it up because the planet is about to be destroyed, ignore her too. A planet devoid of tithe barns wouldn’t be worth saving.

    But don’t forget that Gatwick and Stansted don’t need more runways any more than Heathrow does. Our airports need more runways the way a skin-cancer patient needs more moles.

    We (not only the UK, but the whole world) need fewer runways, fewer airports, fewer cars and trains and planes, fewer houses and, above all, fewer people.

    But we’re not going to get what we need, unless COVID-19 obliges.

    • Paul Armstrong: who is this Mosely? Did you mean Moses?

      Me grandad (not Nazi nor a Hindu) has a swastika embedded on his tombstone.

      Not asking you to explain why, but you seem taken with this Mosely.

      Paul, his surname is Mosley,not Mosely. Please remember that when you raise your right arm to salute him.

  2. So,it’s OK for Gatwick and Stansted.
    You are in clear and present danger, Alastair, of being mistaken for the very definition of a modern major Nimby.

    • Agreed. The problem is there are a million of us, all closely packed around the airport. Which is a lot of nimbies. Which is why the costs of expansion will be astronomical.

      I’m not currently under a flight path – so technically not a nimby. But I’m with those who are.

      • Happy to testify having only been on 10 planes in 70 years. What c*ntry in the world is worth visiting de nos jours? I remember my last trip to Japan…but never mind…I will never visit Cow Lick, West Virginia, let alone London, Jerusalem or Rome.

        • Dr Johnson says: (“Hi, Catherine Blaiklock!”)
          Many places in the world worth seeing, but few worth going to see.

          • Recalling my earlier comment on another recent thread mentioning Horace Rumpole – there was an episode where he was stuck on a cruise ship with Mr Injustice Graves. Why would anyone want to spend time with @ 5,000 other people on a 7 storey glorified cattle stockyard, as Horace then asked (probably 4 stories in his day)?

      • Alistair (28 Feb @ 21:37) – Is not NIMBYism a selfish way of looking at life? No way I want to live near an airport, and I too am tempted by a Terry-Thomas I’m Alright, Jack attitude when it comes to people wanting homes near where I live, but that’s why housing is so expensive in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver. What about London and Portwenn?

        • It’s a complex question, but part of it is that the locals, who already put up with Heathrow airport, many of whom would move if they could, simply do not want a massive expansion. National interest costs and benefits can be debated, but the foreign owners of Heathrow Airport, who stand to make millions, are not necessarily the best judges of those costs and benefits. Others have made the point that 30 per cent of Heathrow air traffic is transit – people not even travelling to or from the UK. No national interest there, merely profit to the owners of Heathrow Airport.