Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hoon's farce as Heathrow expansion is announced

Geoff Hoon gave in the lobbies arguments and gave the Government's Go-ahead for new Heathrow runway.

His arguments are farcical for a lack of better words to describe their implausibility and the inadequacy of measures aimed at alleviating the impact of a third runway:
  • The languge about the "the possibility of new high-speed rail links from the airport" means it's unlikely to happen. Same goes for the idea of "set[tting] up a company to look into creating a high speed rail line between London and Scotland - adding there was a "strong case" for a new high speed rail hub at Heathrow": it's just there to appease opponents.
  • The 125,000 flights cap probably won't meet EU emissions regulations (thanks god to the European Union for making rules to protect citizens from their own government), even with his fictional "green planes"
  • More passengers means more car traffic. The government's answer is to use hard shoulders. Brilliant, except anyone who's travelled on the M4 at peak hours knows that any little incident already causes a major congestion.
The only good news for Richmond residents was the concession to keep the "mixed mode" use of runways (plane noise only half of the day), however nothing on night fligts. But those living further West will be exposes to more takeoff noise thanks to the end of the Cranford agreement.

BAA and the DfT conveniently forget to state that there are FOUR other airports around London when making the case to expand Heathrow. An estuary airport would have been cheaper that T5 + T6 + a 4rd runway.

Finally, the economic case for LHR is based on un-proven assumptions.

Most major European countries have in the last 20 years:
  • relocated their main airport
  • invested in high-speed rail
  • created multimodal nodes (air+rail)

During this time, British ones sat on their bottoms... (read also What if those who govern us had a long term view about strategic infrastructures?)

Here's the Decision text in full.

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