While it is disappointing that the Commission’s first recommendation for a third runway at Heathrow reflects a backward looking view of aviation world, there is good reason for optimism. Gatwick remains on the table as a credible and commercially viable option.
With the door open for Gatwick we may finally be closer to a decision and I will be urging the Government to take the opportunity of a generation to choose Gatwick.
It is frustrating that Sir Howard’s main recommendation is destined to join the long list of reports left gathering dust on the shelves of Whitehall. Heathrow expansion is politically undeliverable and I am confident that residents, local authorities and MPs will put a halt to it.
The scale of the noise, congestion and pollution issues associated with a third runway make it unrealistic to think they can ever be overcome. Particularly when 27 times more people will be affected by flight paths and noise from an expanded Heathrow compared to a two-runway Gatwick.
A third runway at Heathrow would be this generation’s Millennium Dome. An embarrassing grand projet, which proves both costly and counter-productive for residents, consumers, taxpayers, the economy and our environment.
Noise comparison at UK airports, Click to enlarge.
One thing is for certain: Britain needs more aviation capacity to remain an open, globally-focussed trading nation. But the decision on expansion needs to take into account a range of issues, including the environment, local communities, feasibility and the needs of Britain’s aviation market.
The argument over noise is often dismissed as small-minded nimbyism. But airplane noise isn’t just a matter of irritation, it is linked to significant productivity losses and health complications such as hypertension, hearing loss, insomnia, mental health challenges and cognitive impairment. We must take this seriously.
The Office for National Statistics has released its monthly data on unemployment, which shows worklessness in Windsor falling to a record low since data collection began in 2010.
The unemployment benefit claimant rate in the Windsor constituency is now at 0.8%, among the lowest in the country, with just 50 young people on unemployment benefit.
The largest fall in Windsor unemployment is for the long-term unemployed which has fallen 62% in the last 12 months, the eighth highest fall in the country.
The MP for Windsor, Adam Afriyie, welcomed the new figures saying:
“The best gift anyone can receive is a job. It gives people a stake in society, hope for the future and the chance of a better standard of life.
On a summer’s day in June 1215, after days of negotiation, the royal imprimatur was applied to a document that would underpin the history of democratic evolution across the globe.
It was sealed in at Ankerwycke which is today part of the Windsor constituency and took the form of a typically British document, the result of compromise and competing demands, free from hasty radicalism but which nevertheless formed the foundations of the free society we live in to this day.
The rule of law, trial by a jury of peers, a limit on executive power and protection from imprisonment without trial were all first laid down on that day in 1215. And these guarantees were not easily won.
While the debate on Britain’s aviation future won’t start in earnest until the final report from the Airport Commission is released in the summer, the fight against the third runway continues.
During the recent election campaigns, local MPs from the main parties won their seats on the back of a pledge to fight Heathrow expansion. This is good news because newly elected MPs must now live up to those pledges in Parliament by making the case that any airport expansion must not include a third runway at Heathrow.
A number of constituents have been in touch with me in the weeks following the Election asking what they can do to help.
What can you do to help?
To do your bit please: