And Today’s “No Sh*t, Sherlock” Prize Goes To…

heathrow-airport-third-runway-aviation-policy

 

… the hapless Conservative ministers who decided to pander to the green vote by opposing the expansion of London Heathrow Airport during the last general election campaign, but who have finally realised that perhaps constraining airport growth and undermining London’s status as one of the premier European hubs was maybe not such a good idea after all.

As reported in the Guardian today:

According to senior sources, both David Cameron and George Osborne have been convinced of the need to act – and re-examine long-term policy on Heathrow – after being lobbied by overseas leaders and business figures who warn that trade will move elsewhere in the EU unless the airport is expanded.

While the coalition agreement rules out a third runway at Heathrow, which would never be tolerated by the pro-green Liberal Democrats, many Tories now want the party to admit the decision was wrong and back the new runway in the manifesto for the next general election. In the meantime, however, ministers have ordered officials to examine a series of other options. One is the use of RAF Northolt in Ruislip, north-west London, for business flights, to ease pressure on Heathrow, just 13 miles away. Developing Northolt – and perhaps connecting it to Heathrow with a high speed rail link – would allow the government to avoid accusations of a U-turn as the third runway would then be some distance from the main airport.

Just as an aside, note how this story appears in The Guardian’s Environment section, not the Business section.

And predictably, in their panic, a whole load of new hare-brained schemes are now being concocted by these same Conservative ministers:

Tim Yeo, the Tory chairman of the energy and climate change select committee, said that he had “completely changed” his mind on Heathrow expansion and now believed there was no option but to build a third runway to ensure the south of England remained a worldwide aviation hub.

Great. Unfortunately that realisation is followed by this:

While the coalition agreement rules out a third runway at Heathrow, which would never be tolerated by the pro-green Liberal Democrats, many Tories now want the party to admit the decision was wrong and back the new runway in the manifesto for the next general election. In the meantime, however, ministers have ordered officials to examine a series of other options. One is the use of RAF Northolt in Ruislip, north-west London, for business flights, to ease pressure on Heathrow, just 13 miles away. Developing Northolt – and perhaps connecting it to Heathrow with a high speed rail link – would allow the government to avoid accusations of a U-turn as the third runway would then be some distance from the main airport.

Seriously – if the government proposes many more airports we will soon reach a point where there is a little tiny one in everyone’s back garden, with a fully fueled Boeing 747 idling on the 5-metre runway. And each of them, of course, will have a high-speed rail link to Heathrow Airport.

Because nothing says “come connect through Britain on your journey” like having to transfer between a million small airports on an imaginary high speed rail link that may or may not be built in 30 years’ time.

For once, can we actually do something quickly and efficiently in this country, and build the damn third runway at Heathrow?

No hand-wringing, no five year national enquiry chaired by a retired betitled judge, no proposals for twenty new small satellite airports, each serving two destinations and each requiring a high-speed rail link to connect them to the others. None of that. This one really isn’t rocket science. Just build the damn runway.

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