Azara Blog: Government allows third runway at Heathrow

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Date published: 2009/01/15

The BBC says:

The government has given the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow, saying it is "right" for the UK but opponents have vowed to fight the plans.

Environmental campaigners, residents and many MPs attacked the decision but business groups and unions welcomed it.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon told MPs that strict measures would be put in place to limit noise and emissions.
Alongside the commitment to a new runway and a sixth terminal, Mr Hoon also announced increased investment in public transport, including the possibility of new high-speed rail links from the airport.

In an effort to appease critics he said airlines using the new runway would be required to use the newest, least-polluting aircraft.

He told MPs the government was satisfied environmental targets could be met, as it would put an initial cap on additional flights from the new runway of 125,000 a year, would ensure new slots were "green slots" used by only the "cleanest planes" and would set a new target on aircraft emissions - that they would be lower in 2050 than in 2005.

Usually when a weak government has to compromise the final result ends up being far, far worse than the original proposal. This time, however, it seems like it might be better, dependent of course on the details and how everything pans out. And needless to say, nobody knows what will happen in 2050. It's not unlikely that Britain will be even further down the league of wealthy nations by then, and Britain could well be a pathetic backwater in 2050, which would make this much capacity at Heathrow largely an irrelevancy.

The Tories (allegedly) oppose this third runway so it is quite possible it will never happen (because they are likely to win the next election).

It makes more sense to allow Stansted to have another runway, but it's hard to see that happening. Stansted generally is a far better location for an airport than Heathrow, but the hysterical anti-aviation brigade cannot even accept that. (Well, most of them are not hysterical enough to stop flying themselves. They think it's the peasants who shouldn't be allowed to fly.)

In a related story, the BBC says:

A village near Heathrow is to be razed after the government approved controversial plans to allow a third runway to be built at the airport.

Sipson sits on land destined for the runway and its 700 homes and school will effectively be wiped from the map.
Residents and local businesses are expected to be the subject of compulsory purchase orders (CPO) as plans proceed to demolish the entire village to make way for the construction.

The CPOs will be used by the government or local authority as a last resort when an agreement cannot be reached with the home or land owners.

Those affected can appeal against the CPOs through the courts.

But if they fail in their appeal they will be entitled to the market value of the property and land as well as the cost of vacating properties and relocating.

They could also be entitled to a home-loss payment to reflect and recognise the distress and discomfort of being compelled to move out of their home.

People will not be found alternative homes but the government will be expected to help them find suitable properties. The level of compensation will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Hopefully the affected people will be promptly and handsomely compensated for all the trouble they are going to have to go through. That is one thing the British government has never been good at. And BAA should pick up the bill. (Those compensated should of course not include the spoiled academic middle class protestors who are trying to make the CPO system grind to a halt by playing malicious games. It is because of people like this that the UK spends far too much money on lawyers and not enough on engineering.)

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