Thursday, 25 February 2010

Whither/Wither Heathrow?

The Conservatives' position is clear
The LibDems' position is clear
The position of many in the Labour party is clear

Whatever the outcome of the impending General Election, Heathrow runway 3 will not be built.

This does, however, beg the question of how the demand for extra capacity (the estimated 222,000 extra flights which would have come with the third runway) will be met.

It is generally accepted that Heathrow “just growed”; starting from scratch it would not be there.

The problems with pollution, traffic congestion and noise with the current volume of flights at Heathrow
are apparent. These problems will be exacerbated by the more intensive use of the existing runways by improved air traffic control which will enable overlapped landing/take-off.
CO2 emissions may be reduced by new engine (open rotor) technology; however, this is noisier - it is highly probable that new generation planes with these engines could not operate from Heathrow

There is another elephant in the room: the issue of security/terrorism issue.
Consider: the ease with which the entry tunnels could be sabotaged, the appalling possibility of another 9/11 style attack on central London or Windsor – targets which could be hit only a few minutes after takeoff.

Let's call the whole thing off; close Heathrow entirely.

The Manifesto should advocate, if not enunciate, an holistic approach to the entire transport infrastructure of SE England.
The estuary airport as proposed by Boris could also encompass:
- TGV-style rail connections to UK & the continent
- the new Thames Barrier (needed in any case in consequence of climate change)
- tidal (therefore green) power generation
- wind power
- container port linked to rail for freight

This phased development would facilitate the re-development of the Heathrow area as:
- London's major rail centre linking Great Western, SouthWest Trains, Chiltern Rail, Chunnel
- rail freight interchange
- an exhibition & entertainment centre to rival to NEC
(this would also allow the redevelopment of the out-dated sites at Olympia and Earls Court)
- associated property/leisure development

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