The government has given the greenlight for the airport’s third runway

Six and a half years ago a new coalition consisting of conservatives and liberals crushed Labour’s plans to build a third runway at Heathrow. Labour’s plan was rather controversial at the time, one debate in the commons led a Labour backbencher to scream at their own frontbenchers, while storming the centre of the chamber to steal the House of Commons’ ceremonial mace.

Taking over form John McDonnell’s outburst in 2009, Zac Goldsmith has made the first strike against the government instantly resigning over the expansion. Boris Johnson and Justin Greening on the front bench are expected to also oppose the government’s decision. With such fierce opposition it would make you wonder what could be so bad?

Well to start off 725,000 people already living under the flight path.  It would make sense to increase capacity in an area with lower population density such as Gatwick Airport.

And it’s not like Heathrow isn’t pushing its weight already. Even with only two runways, Heathrow has one of the largest amounts of international flights, completely obliterating its rivals. With 990 departure flights each week to the world’s key business centres, it has more air traffic than its two closest rivals combined, Charles de Gaulle with 484 and Frankfurt with 450.

“With 990 departure flights each week to the world’s key business centres, it has more air traffic than its two closest rivals combined, Charles de Gaulle with 484 and Frankfurt with 450.”

The proposed expansion could also greatly increase the amount of CO2 emissions. John Stewart from the Airport Watch campaign said if the expansion went ahead “Heathrow would become the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the country”.

You may ask yourself why the government would go through with such a disastrous plan. But with May eliminating the position of minister for climate change and placing Andrea Leadsom as Secretary of State for Environment, a person who on their first day of the job questioned the existence of climate change, it’s hardly surprising. So it seems that the economy takes priority over the possible mass extinction point heading over our way.

But if an economic boost is what you want then it seems it could be heading our way. The construction would most likely be the cheapest way to build a runway and the total economic benefit could be as high as 61 billion pounds, while only costing the tax payer 17.6 billion. The construction could bring in around 77,000 jobs to the local area.

However, the battle is not yet won or lost, with a vote on the decision going to the commons in a year’s time. Until then we are likely to see many a protest and angry emails to disgruntled MPs.

IMAGE: Wikipedia

About the author

Duncan Michie

Science and Technology Editor

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