95 Views

Runway madness…

Photo: planestupid

Photo: planestupid

The decision on Heathrow’s third runway came on Thursday 15 January. It was not, unfortunately, a surprise. The government has continued to prioritise the needs of business and profit above the people, and Labour’s planet green rhetoric is exposed as meaningless by their deeds.

While building a third runway is clearly environmentally, socially, politically, and medically detrimental, the government and BAA’s economic argument is also fundamentally flawed.

Climate Change is the biggest threat facing humanity today, and the chances of a global catastrophe are getting larger. During summer 2008, Kevin Anderson, a scientist, from the reputable Tyndall Centre of Climate Research, claimed it was possibly too late to stop runaway climate change, as carbon emissions are rising faster than predicted.

Aviation is the fastest growing contributor to climate change in the UK, currently accounting for over 13% annually of CO2. Another effect of aviation is the potent greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide. Extraordinarily, this is not included in the Climate Change Bill. When asked, pro-Aviation groups (as well as the government) tend to state that aviation only contributes 2%. In other words, ‘what is the fuss about?’. However, this figure is a global average and comes from 1992. Furthermore, the IPCC suggest that by 2041 the global figure will have increased to 15%, making aviation “a significant contributor to global CO2 emissions”.

But this a distraction from the main point. It is the Western industrialised countries which predominately cause climate change, and it is these countries which need to clean up their act. Crucially, according to the Tyndall Centre, the 80% cut by 2050 cannot be met if a third runway is built. Even if all other sectors become carbon neutral, this runway would still exceed the 80% reductions.

The government appears to have made some concessions towards greens in their new proposals. But how far can we believe them? BAA does not keep to its promises; they have promised in their time not to build a third runway, fifth or sixth terminal, all broken promises. BAA also promises that technology will be up to date and the new aircrafts that will be used on the third runway will be less noisy and less polluting. However, these planes do not exist; they are barely even a prototype. Furthermore, while planes may well become more efficient, it is highly debatable whether this efficiency will outweigh the doubling of flights leaving Heathrow. While the government has stipulated that the aircrafts using the third runaway have to meet EU regulations, there has been no such stipulation for the existing two runways. This is on top of the emissions produced from others areas, such as the construction, and increased transport to Heathrow which would accompany the third runaway. In others words, there is arguably no way that building a third runway is compatible with meeting even the governments conservative targets on reducing CO2 emissions.
There are several other reasons why building a 3rd runway is unjustified.

The most common destination of flights leaving Heathrow is Paris, a destination easily reached by rail. Moreover about 25% of all transfers in Heathrow are to another UK airport. We should demand of the government that they put more effort and money into faster, cheaper rail services, and therefore reduce the demand for air travel. The IPCC maintain that 10% of current travellers within the EU could be transferred onto high speed rail from aircraft, a statistic that can be corroborated by the significant success of high speed rail in France and most recently Spain, where rail passengers are up 28% and aircraft passengers have dropped 20%.

‘Recently, Greenpeace bought one acre of land right in the middle of the construction area for a third runway. There are now 27,000 owners of this land, including celebrities, scientists and activists’

It is also vital that we do not overlook the estimated 2000 people who will lose their homes, 22 businesses that stand to loose their premises, and whole communities and graveyards which will be displaced. For those left within the near vicinity of the airport, doctors predict that the rising air pollution will contribute to noticeably increased cases of asthma and lung related diseases, especially amongst children. Noise pollution will affect ever more people due to the new flight paths planned. Local teachers under the present flight paths describe the difficulty in teaching a ‘stop-start’ education which will be inherited by a further 114 schools in West London. One of the borough’s best schools lies on the proposed runway.

But, what about the cornerstone of the pro-aviation argument, the economic benefit of building a 3rd runaway? It simply doesn’t fly. There is already a £15 billion annual deficit in aviation tourism – that’s the difference between the amount of money spent abroad by Britons flying out of the UK (£26 billion) and the amount visitors to the UK spend here (£11 billion). The WWF spell out that rather than making a profit, the 3rd runaway would lead to a loss of £5billion.

This is based on their discovery that on average transit passengers using Heathrow airport to connect to another UK destination do not contribute to the economy in their stop-off, a statistic the government ignores. Coming from a rather conservative position, the Stern Report reflected these findings.
Linked to the economic argument is that a third runway would create jobs. Gordon Brown, along with a host of leading trade union leaders, claim to care about creating jobs, but earlier in the week Brown made the decision to close low carbon building plans that could loose thousands of workers their jobs. The Department for Transport openly admits that of the 15,000 jobs expected to arise from the construction of the airport, 11,000 will be lost after the construction of the airport. Recently British Airways shed more than 100 jobs, exemplifying that aviation jobs are no less vulnerable to the recession (especially as there is a drop in passengers flying). Brown appears to be willfully beating off projects which could tackle the environmental and financial situations simultaneously.

Could the government – and the unions leadership – not propose creating jobs in renewable energy sources, home insulation, fast-speed rail, a coordinated UK train and bus transport system? or the construction of the tens of thousands of needed new homes? These are only a few of the areas where tens of thousands of jobs could be created. But the point is that the government does not actually care about job creation and the TUC leadership, epitomized by Brendan Barber, know to kowtow to the Labour Government.

But, the hypocrisy of the government and BAA has not gone unnoticed. There is a growing movement
against the expansion of Heathrow and the aviation industry more generally. Recently, Greenpeace bought one acre of land right in the middle of the construction area for a third runway. There are now 27,000 owners of this land, including celebrities, scientists and activists, all of whom are entitled and intend to appeal the decision. The residents of Sipson are up in arms about the decision, with grannies and single parents ready to take direct action to protect their homes. Only in the last week, there have been two large protests at Heathrow Airport. Though not at Heathrow, a direct action group called PlaneStupid recently occupied Stansted Airport (which BAA and the government also has plans to expand), shutting down the entire airport for five hours and inflicting millions of pounds of losses on the aviation industry.

Preventing this runway from being built is symbolically crucial, but is also essential in its own right. If this runway is built, the consequences are unquantifiable. Not only will it virtually make it impossible for the 80% target by 2050 to be met, but it also indicative of the governments priorities.

They have made an unnecessary political error, which, we hope, they will deeply regret. As the Suffragettes proclaimed, what we need is ‘Deeds Not Words’. But if the government is unable to act, if the government continues to prioritise short-term profit above humanity , then it is up to us to act. Already, globally 160,000 people die from climate change each year, this is a 9/11 every two weeks. For how long will you stand aside and let government perpetuate this cycle. At what point will you start to itch?

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
285 views1
Campus News
285 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
15 views
Arts
15 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
21 views
Arts
21 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
75 views
Artist Focus
75 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
51 views
Interview
51 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
106 views
Arts
106 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
103 views
Arts
103 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
122 views
Arts
122 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
100 views
Artist Focus
100 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
83 views
Books
83 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
115 views
Science
115 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
169 views
News
169 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…

Why I’m Jewish AND I support BDS
Comment
161 views
Comment
161 views

Why I’m Jewish AND I support BDS

Sarah McIntosh - May 2, 2018

The idea of a land where my religious identity is welcomed and where I feel safe to be myself and live in peace is a beautiful idea…

Student research happening at Sussex
Features
138 views
Features
138 views

Student research happening at Sussex

Nikolaos Manesis - May 1, 2018

(Image source: Flickr, Pixabay, Wikipedia) Another academic year is coming to a close and with it, the last edition of The Badger. To celebrate our last science…

Sussex Festival cancelled
Campus News
205 views
Campus News
205 views

Sussex Festival cancelled

Jordan Wright - April 30, 2018

The Students’ Union have cancelled their highly anticipated end-of-term event Sussex Festival: Desert Island Disco, which was due to begin on Saturday May 12th. The Students’ Union…

Students’ Union President Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate respond to the cancelled event
Comment
225 views
Comment
225 views

Students’ Union President Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate respond to the cancelled event

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

These comment pieces represent the opinions of both the Students' Union and Liberate the Debate with regards to the  recent cancellation of the Society's freedom of speech…

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood
Artist Focus
141 views
Artist Focus
141 views

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood

Louisa Hunt - April 25, 2018

Rory Hinshelwood studies Zoology with Spanish at Sussex. His brand is called Poplar St., at the moment the brand sell embroidered high-quality t-shirts. Rory works mostly in graphics…

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen
Artist Focus
101 views
Artist Focus
101 views

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen

Emma Phillips - April 24, 2018

The Badger spoke with Sussex University’s Maayan Cohen about her creative workshop, ‘Bits and Pieces.’ Can you tell us a bit about Bits and Pieces- what’s the…

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review
Arts
126 views
Arts
126 views

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

As part of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Undisciplined, Voodoo comes to being as a collaboration between South East Dance and Project O. Project O brings artists Alexandrina…

Arts
128 views

Trial & error: Sex, sass and foolishness through dance

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

For the concluding show of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Double Bill brings two short performances to The Old Market’s stage: Comebacks I thought of later by Eleanor…