All through 2015, the Evening Standard has frequently run full page advertisements from the Heathrow lobby, the Gatwick lobby, and even the alternative Heathrow lobby. It’ll be good for business, they say. Good for jobs. Good for the UK. And good for London. I’m sure some of it is true.
What I know is true is that from 4am most days, I “enjoy” the large airliners from Asia flying over my house in preparation for their final approaches into Heathrow. I get a brief respite during the morning, but by the afternoon into the evening – depending on wind direction – aircraft are taking off from Heathrow, and swinging over my town in their ascent.
All this Heathrow traffic is coupled with take-offs from Northolt, the airport that might have been Heathrow’s third runway. Only The Rich, The Royals, and the RAF use Northolt, but it’s still a busy airport that is growing rapidly from 7000 civilian flights a year – and military/governmental flights are uncapped.
I don’t often agree with Boris, but he was really on to something with his Boris Island proposal. It’s not beyond the British, surely, to build something far enough offshore that can be used 24 hours a day is it? A facility that can be have super-fast links to central London by train, and road connections onto the motorways of Essex and Kent. A brand new 21st century airport that will free up the 1200 hectares of land that Heathrow apparently occurs – which could be used to make a big dent in the supposed housing crisis in one fell swoop by providing a quarter of a million people with housing on Parisian urban densities.
In the UK, we’re spending billions on big infrastructure projects that don’t really matter: HS2; controversial smart meters; super-sewers. A new airport to the east, and vast amounts of new housing on the old Heathrow site, are the right infrastructure answers.