Change Alley

information, opinion, conversation

Runway 61 Revisited

with 2 comments

Last week the government launched its consultation into plans for a third runway and sixth terminal at London Heathrow. Greenpeace has been in touch with The Coffee House, asking us to support their ‘Stop Heathrow Expansion’ campaign. As in most issues nowadays, the prime arguments against the expansion are climate change and economics. To quote Greenpeace:

Already the busiest airport in Europe, the plan would mean a 70 per cent increase in flight numbers and a corresponding rise in climate change pollution. It’s crazy to be paving the way for such big increases in greenhouse gases when we should be doing all we can to reduce emissions.
What’s particularly short sighted about this proposal is that a third runway at Heathrow really isn’t needed. Well over a fifth of flights from Heathrow are to short-haul destinations, already well served by trains which cause ten times less damage to the climate than flying.

Hidden away in the small print are a few references to the effects on the local residents of additional noise and pollution. Nothing about wider environmental impacts on habitats and biodiversity. You get the impression that if this development was a Tesco rather than an airport no-one would bat an eyelid.

Contrast this with the campaign being fought in Florida against the dual expansion of Fort Lauderdale International Airport and Port Everglades. Citizens Against Runway Expansion give a whole list of reasons why the project is a bad idea. Here are a few:

  • Eradication of protected mangroves, some of which are Essential Fish Habitat
  • Loss of hatching and nursery habitat for numerous aquatic, terrestrial and avian species
  • Destruction of Manatee habitat
  • Decimation of 15 or more acres of our coral reef system
  • Detrimental effects from noise pollution on wildlife
  • Probable damage to the potable water supply from leaching of toxins from dredged fill during dewatering and compaction processes

OK, I know we’re not comparing apples and apples. I doubt if Heathrow has many manatees or coral reefs, but there might well be some great crested newts. It’s still interesting how the Heathrow campaign has taken a completely different spin from the one in Florida, which even accepts that increased capabilities for trade and leisure travel are benefits, rather than Public Enemy Number 1 as they are seen in the UK.


2 Responses

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  1. Gordon Brown gives his “unequivocal support” to the third runway because he thinks that Britain’s prosperity depends on it .

    But according to an independent report on the White Paper, the benefits of a third runway are grossly exaggerated – the benefits to the economy are overestimated and the financial benefits are questionable. In fact, it goes as far as to say that an expansion may have a negative impact on UK tourism. . . .


    December 3, 2007 at 6:10 am

  2. I like the line taken by anti expansion people that energy should be spent on making sure planes are more full. Makes sense/cents.


    December 3, 2007 at 7:16 am

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