| Society

Flights of Fancy and an Unwanted Runway

The UK has not built a full-length runway in the South East since World War 2. Should it?

Sometimes the arguments used in favour of something are the best arguments against that thing.

For an example, see this press release I received about the expansion of Heathrow Airport:

A significant amount of time, effort, and energy has been spent at arriving at the conclusions. Strong account has been taken with the need to meet EU air pollution limits, address noise pollution concerns and move most ground traffic from road to rail. What must happen is action by the politicians: further delay would significantly damage UK plc.

In context, the UK has not built a full-length runway in the South East since World War 2. Our neighbours in the EU have overtaken us – Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam already have much more runway capacity. What this means is that we’re losing out in the global connectivity race: Paris already offers 50 per cent more flights to China than London, for example. This is significant, because by 2025 there will be 7,000 new $1bn companies globally, and nearly 7 in 10 will be in emerging economies. If we want to connect with these we have to act.

With the world’s biggest cities planning 50 new runways by 2036, allowing for 1bn new passenger journeys, we simply can’t afford any further political delay. Given that Dubai will soon have more capacity than all of London’s airports combined, it is clear that expansion of airport capacity in the South East is a must. The world is watching to see if London and the UK has the ambition to maintain its position as a Global trading hub – we’re losing ground to our competitors, and further political delay would be unacceptable.

I find this self-serving corporate-bureaucratic bullshit a lot more offensive than Anglo-Saxon terms for bodily functions used as expletives. Look at the way it glosses over the environmental impact with meaningless empty platitudes, and says nothing at all about how it might affect the lives of ordinary working people. And it’s clearly not about the transport needs of those who actually live and work in the South-East of England. Who cares how many runways they have in bloody Dubai?

The whole thing speaks volumes about the worldview of Big Money. The only people who matter are the global elites who owe no loyalty to any nation or culture. The same people who are slowly and steadily turning London into a soulless corporate wasteland filled with luxury apartments that are occupied for a few weeks a year, while ordinary Londoners are relentlessly priced out of their own city. The people who only see the rest of us through the tinted windows of the chauffeur-driven cars.

Screw these people. And screw their runway.

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