Graham's blog

Willie Walsh rules out 3rd runway at Heathrow

BA chief executive Willie Walsh has finally admitted a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport "will never be built". He told a Times CEO summit yesterday that "it's dead" and that British Airways were looking for expansion at Madrid airport after their recent link-up with Iberian Airways.

John Stewart, Chair of the residents organisation HACAN, which campaigns against aircraft noise said:

"It now looks as if finally the third runway has been killed off. It's most enthusiastic backers, British Airways, are now planning for life without a new runway".

Stewart added:

"BAA should now sell off the houses they have bought in Sipson to allow life in the villages to get back to normal".

Whilst this announcement clearly represents a victory for the Heathrow villages and the UK's climate change act - at the same time we need to be really cautious that expansion doesn't just happen elsewhere instead. There are many regional airports across the UK that still have expansion plans and with the Times leader today pushing for a new airport on the Thames Estuary it is clear where the battle has now moved too. Expansion in Europe instead would also be problematic.

We cannot have airport expansion and meet our climate change targets. Fact.

Aviation advertising: an activist writes


As an activist for the direct action group Plane Stupid, I am often asked "who the hell are you to say which flights are necessary and which aren't?"

"Well Jeremy," I generally respond, "I'm the person you're interviewing about which flights are necessary and which aren't." Then I generally go on to explain in impressive detail that any flight where there is a convenient and more sustainable alternative available, such as 90% of flights within Europe, is one type of unnecessary flight.

However, there are other types of unnecessary flight, some just as unnecessary, or occasionally even more unnecesary, than the short-haul unnecessary flight. One important type of unnecessary flight is the the flight you didn't know you wanted to take until a bilboard told you that you did. Whilst different people may disagree over the relative importance of holidays in the sun, family reunions and high-powered international business meetings, sorry, I appear to have fallen asleep there for a moment.

Whilst different people may disagree over the relative importance of holidays in the sun, family reunions and high-powered international business meetings, I think we can all agree that missing a flight that you didn't want to take, indeed had never considered taking, would not be a huge loss. Indeed, and I speak with a fair degree of confidence when I say this, I think that, as losses go, it would probably be towards the 'small' end of the loss magnitude spectrum.

As such, they would be just the sort of flights which one might consider doing without, on the grounds that they would (and here I refer the reader to the preceding passage) no great loss. So, how would one prevent people from taking flights thery didn't want to take until they were told that they wanted to by a billboard? One method would be to ask Her Majesty's Government to stop people from erecting these troublesome billboards in the first place. This isn't a very good method, however, as Her Majesty's Government are, by and large, the biggest shower of shits you are ever likely to come across.

As an activist for the direct action group Plane Stupid, the method I generally recommend for preventing people from taking flights they didn't know they wanted to take until they were told they wanted to by a billboard is direct action. This can take many forms, although 99% of these forms are what is referred to in the national press as 'mindless vandalism'. So, by way of a summary, I would recommend mindless vandalism in 99/% of cases.

Goodnight, and remember to wear your fluoro vest.

89% of consultation responses opposed expansion


Do you remember the Heathrow ‘consultation’? No? Well you probably live in Hammersmith, Shepherd's Bush, Chiswick, East Putney, Kensington, Holland Park or Southall and the Government didn't bother to consult you. Anyway the results are in and the winner is… the Government *.

A staggering 11% of respondents’ submissions supported building a third runway, only 1,494 of which came from British Airways. Even when you discount the retired BA workers who supported the third runway because BA said they’d cut off their pensions if they didn’t, you’re still left with over 9% in favour. Looking on the bright side, democracy has triumphed over the shrill protesting cries of an unrepresentative and extremist fringe.

* Whilst in most opinion surveys 11% would be seen as quite a poor result, and the 89% opposing would be interpreted as a majority, this is a government ‘consultation’, and so the standard statistical measures don’t apply. Due to BAA writing half of the thing, and the government collating the responses, the margin of error has been estimated at +100%. Therefore, the results clearly show that up to 111% of respondents supported the runway, which even the deepest green would have to admit is a pretty impressive majority. You can’t argue with that. Really, you can’t. I know you think you can, but you can’t. We tried already. You just can’t.

Government tells government to stop building runways

Stop sign 2

The Sustainable Development Commission, the government’s green watchdog, has decided that destroying the planet may be harmful to the environment. God alone knows how this bunch of dangerous subversives managed to get through the quango filter. Even more amazingly, despite the SDC being a creation of the Blair government, not a single one of its members used to be the chief executive of British Airways.

They've told the government to stop it's mad schemes for airport expansion, and to rethink the whole dammed aviation thingie. Well really - this total lack of joined-up-government is likely to be a severe embarrassment to Gordon Brown, although it is right at the back of the queue. The PM has allegedly penciled in a deep blush and guttural stutter from now through to late November, 2009.

MOLE HUNT: Behind the bamboo curtain

Toby on Bebo

The man they * call Agent Maverick first appeared on my horizon several months ago, when Tamsin mentioned that Plane Stupid London had a mysterious new member calling himself Ken Tobias.

"He looks a bit like a cop," she said.

That could have been the end of Plane Stupid – how were we, a bunch of useless hippies, supposed to deal with a professional infiltrator? Things had escalated to a new and discomforting level – what had we got ourselves into? And how could we determine whether he really was a mole?