A problem and a solution that affects us all. Or does it?

A problem and a solution that affects us all. Or does it?

18/12/2013 Written by: Zoë Metcalfe

It’s difficult to know which is the best solution for the UK and London; a Boris Island hub or the proposed incremental distribution of airports option.  It’s currently hard to clearly hear the facts that outline the social and economic pros and cons for both.

Am I hard of hearing? Too near a busy flight path or is it just that this part of the story is not being told? 

I was initially amused, and then rather disappointed, to read the approach taken by MP Zac Goldsmith who seems to reflect the view of a very few and not consider the wider social and economic impacts of doing nothing.  Perhaps Zac Goldsmith is also like me and finding it hard to hear? I empathise with those constituents who live under the Heathrow flight path, however many of them will have chosen  to live there, and in doing so benefit from the connectivity and business this brings. Recent evidence based studies by aviation experts demonstrate that the benefits of the proposed third Heathrow runway will include improving the quality of life for those living below the current flight path by reducing noise by over 10% percent on that experienced now.  Other innovations related to landing and take-off, new quieter aircraft and higher flight paths over London would have further positive incremental improvements and it would also mean we would all experience a more resilient, punctual and timely service.  Surely a good thing?

This links to my greatest bone of contention – that of politics wagging the tail of the dog!  If only we could live in an ideal world where major infrastructure projects were de-coupled from politically motivated decisions and rather were governed by the needs of the many as well as long term legacy creation.  I know I am being somewhat idealistic but if our forefathers the Victorians could do it why can’t we?

Form follows function so to have the right solution we must understand our aviation needs both for the short and the long term.  When a solution, such as the Thames Estuary Airport appears to create more problems than it solves, due to its significant environmental and financial impacts and its reliance on high speed rail beyond the planned HS2 to HS3, HS4, surely it’s time to go back to the drawing board and look at the other solutions proposed?  It will take a pot of gold and magic wand  to pay for all the new  infrastructure  it will require and to wipe clean the potential environmental damage! 

We do not yet know how the new Millennials and their use of new media will impact on our international travel;  will our social media, VC/TC technologies cancel out some of the predicted air travel?  We don’t know what we don’t know so an incremental approach to the solution is surely a safer option than the risk of creating a white elephant future generations spend their lifetimes paying back?

Instead of infrastructure being ruled by the length of a party’s term we could plan long term incremental infrastructure projects unencumbered by the cost politics adds to finding the right solution for us all.  

So please speak up so those of us at the back can hear.  We want to understand the real social and economic benefits of all our aviation options so that we can play a part in informed decision making.  Let’s be part of the first of the few who take a socially responsible view that benefits the whole of the UK - North, South, East and West!

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