Third London airport - in Hyde Park?

Hyde Park airport

In the 1960s the Roskill commission was tasked with producing a report into the best location for the third London airport. Its findings were reached though cost-benefit analysis, assigning an arbitary economic value to the unquantifiable. The report famously valued a Norman church at just £50,000 (the cost of its fire insurance).

As contermporary detractors noted, reports based on cost-benefit analysis carry the predjudices of their authors - and Roskill was no exception. The greatest weight was given to convenience of passengers, calculated by applying a per-minute value for any reduction in journey times to the combined number of minutes saved by the total number of passengers who might use the airport over a ten or twenty year period! Saving just one second per passenger would add up when aggregated over a decade or two - even if that second was saved by drastically increasing noise and pollution.

Flights of fancy

Call me a cynic, but I'm willing to bet the upcoming consultations on expanding Heathrow airport don't halt the government's madcap plans to lay tarmac all over west London. It's not that I don't trust the public to make the "right" decision; more that whenever the aviation industry asks the questions it gets the result it wanted, even if it contradicts every other survey.

Pro-expansion lobby group Future Heathrow recently published a Populus survey which shows surprising support for Heathrow expansion. They polled 1,000 residents from the west London boroughs that comprise the 2M group, and discovered 56% supported ending runway alternation (switching the runway used for take-offs at 3pm, to give locals respite from aircraft noise). This contradicted last year's ICM poll by the Mayor of London, which found only 26% supported ending alternation. Begging the question: why did the industry survey get the results it did?

Stansted inquiry draws to a close

After five months, the inquiry into making maximum use of Stansted's runway has drawn to a close. The inspector's decision is expected before Christmas.

Stop Stansted Expansion described BAA's attempts to justify expanding from 25 million to 35 million passengers per year as "wholly unconvincing", and pointed out that following a dismal inquiry, BAA are now expected to announce that the consultation into the second runway is to be postponed.

The application to expand usage of the existing runway was rejected by Uttlesford Council last year, in what is believed to be the first application to be dismissed on climate change grounds.

BAA's Stansted staff paid to protest for expansion

Given these times of heightened security at the nation's airports, you'd expect BAA to be employing as many security as possible to get passengers through check-in and into their shopping centres - sorry, departure terminals.

Not so! Instead, the company has been giving security staff time off to stand around outside the Stansted inquiry, waving pro-expansion banners. To make matters worse, the airport company has been lying to its staff to persuade them to join in.