Saturday, 29 October 2016

Things we can do instead of building new runways

Earlier this week, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith (also their failed Mayor of London candidate) resigned his seat over the approval of an unnecessary and deeply harmful third runway at London's famous Heathrow Airport, to recontest it as an independent.

Which brings us to fundamentally why we do not need a new runway at Heathrow, or indeed anywhere else in the United Kingdom:

1. Fossil fuel aircraft cause enormous environmental damage, and this hurts people as well. In Greater London alone air pollution kills nearly 10,000 people per year. Aircraft are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. We instead need to focus on improving international transport infrastructure in Europe and facilitate greater use of online communication (e.g. Skype) so that people will not have to fly around the world for work.

2. Technology is now innovating faster than we can build hubs that are based on current technology. New runways take several years to build at least, especially for such busy international airports as Heathrow. By the time this new runway would be built, it would be essentially a waste of space and of up to £20,000,000,000 worth of taxpayers' money. Fewer people in the UK are taking flights in reality; it is just that richer people are taking a larger share of UK flights (the richest 15% of people are accountable for 70% of flights, and it gets more disproportionate the further you go up the wealth ladder, with many of these flights being simply to notorious tax havens).

3. Even with just two runways, the excessive noise from Heathrow Airport is a problem for people living in the Richmond Park constituency; a third runway with consequently more aeroplanes could make that noise issue intolerable. That noise issue applies everywhere airports are built.

4. Thousands of peoples' homes, as well as some listed buildings, will have to be demolished just to make way for this unnecessary runway, at a time when Britain is already in a housing crisis. As stated by the Green Party's 2015 general election candidate for Esher & Walton, Olivia Palmer, this will put added pressure on nearby villages not in a position to absorb thousands of displaced people at once. The same will undoubtedly happen if other new runways are built.

And if people still want to fly, innovations in new airship technology could see a revival of fossil fuel-free air transport, even if it is not that fast. I believe these innovations should continue to thrive so that our atmosphere and our air can one day be free of the damage caused by kerosene-powered aeroplanes.

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