Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

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A third runway at Heathrow is not enough

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo
It was interesting to read Tory MP Tim Yeo’s piece in the Daily Telegraph today on his Damascus-like conversion to more plane travel but I think he might have ulterior motives along with other environmental zealots in the Conservative Party.

Anyway, less of that. Although I agree with some of Mr Yeo’s article, especially the bits about Cameron’s distinct lack of leadership qualities and the need for a “trace of Thatcher”, I don’t agree we should build a third runway at Heathrow. That’s far too little (and probably too late). We need a new airport with two or three runways to ensure we remain competitive with the other hub airports of Europe, such as Schiphol, Frankfurt or Paris.

My view on aviation policy in this country is, and has been for sometime, to build a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary, commonly referred to as Boris Island after the London Mayor’s support for such a scheme last year. I am tempted by a second runway at Stansted but as Ben Gummer alluded in a tweet to me a couple of weeks ago, this would just tinker with the problem rather than fix it. Boris Island would offer a fix, a third runway at Heathrow or second at Stansted would just be a sticking plaster. Without good air links to the world’s commercial centres, which a new London hub airport would bring, we will get left behind along with the likes of Greece, Italy and Spain. You see we are not that different to these despot economies. Gordon Brown back in the noughties presided over unforgivable exorbitant levels of government borrowing, PPI schemes and tuition fees which has left us (or more accurately the next generation and those yet to be conceived) with over a £trillion of debt and rising; it is only our higher GDP which is keeping the IMF at bay. We desperately need to create growth which a new hub airport would bring in construction and future trade.
Thames Estuary airport proposition
So grow some balls Mr Cameron and take a stand for once in your political life. Unfortunately, as I write this I see the Yellow Peril starting to froth at the mouth. The Liberal Democrats, once they’ve made their money, hate anything which brings prosperity to the masses (like all socialists do) so anything to do with creating growth really is not on their agenda. And with a Prime Minister who probably couldn’t care less as long as he can fly out of the country to one of his holiday homes after he retires from politics in 2014/15, aviation expansion looks likely to be kicked into the long grass for another 30 years.
Another example of unforgivable leadership from our ministers.