My Mum until recently and all but one of my aunts live in South West London and one issue that is hugely controversial is Heathrow Airport. One of the busiest airports in the world and serves as the main hub airport for most of the UK. Yet for many living around it, the airport is a nightmare with flights landing just a minute apart for most of the day. The airport does have restrictions during the evenings and they try to rotate the runways where landings and take offs happen to give different parts of the area a bit of a breather from the noise.
Not all residents of this area dislike the airport, they recognise the economic benefits that it brings in terms of jobs and investment into the local community. In fact, if you took away the airport or downsized it, it would be difficult to see what would actually replace it.
Thus far the government has not made a decision on whether to expand the airport and build a third runway, fearing the response from many of the Conservative MP’s in that area who are opposed to such plans, instead favouring the expansion of Gatwick. Yet, the former Chancellor, George Osborne has made the economic case today for why the airport should be expanded arguing;
If we want Britain to be outward-looking, free-trading & global, we must expand the great airport that connects us to that world & that trade.
We can consider Gatwick expansion. But not at the expense of Heathrow – and not in parallel or else, in practice, nothing will get built.
The failure to get a decision on this issue one way or another, has to been seen as a sign that across the UK, there lacks a serious strategy in terms of aviation and how to get the big ticket items done.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs