Thursday, January 15, 2009

Heathrow Runway Will Never Take Off

Disheartened Heathrow opponents can take heart from the mass of opposition against the £9 billion third runway, as a pig-headed government, bent on getting its own way, bulldozes through the sop to its big businesses pals with a powerful Heathrow lobby pushing behind the scenes. 

Government spin has gone into overdrive, as plans for a third runway at Heathrow were given the go ahead, with the 'promise' of new jobs and strict noise and pollution controls, neither of which stand up to close scrutiny and a new fast rail link to Heathrow as a sweetener. 

The Orange Party warned in November that it was a case of when, not if, the expansion would be announced, as it became clear Heathrow was a runaway runway sham

The government is singing from the old boom years hymn sheet. Now the bubble has burst, it should be time to rethink the Heathrow monster. But that won't get in the way of a powerful lobby and short-sighted government.

Brown switched New Labour's greybeard, Geoff Hoon, to transport to steer through the plan, backed by Adonis in the Lords. What the government wants, Hoon will make sure the government gets, regardless of the arguments stacked up against them. 

But on the political front alone the plan will face hurdles at every stage with overwhelming opposition from Tories, LibDems, the London mayor, dozens of Labour MPs and a cabinet rebellion led by environment secretary, Hilary Benn. Benn must now consider his position in cabinet if he's to salvage any credibility. 

Even MPs, brow-beaten by the business spin, cannot stomach the way the green lobby has been ignored and can do without a Heathrow battle in their marginal constituencies.

But Brown's deputy Mandelson and powerful lobby forces are at work here. For BAA's Spanish owners, Ferrovial, Heathrow is a lucrative jewel in the crown. Its main customer, British Airways is trying to sew up transatlantic trade. 

Both environmental and political protesters do face an uphill struggle as the whole issue of environmental impact has been spun away and buried. 

Brown told MPs yesterday there wouldn't be a commons vote on the expansion, when he rejected a Tory demand and caved in to the powerful lobby, saying it would go to a planning inquiry.

The government has tried its damnest to stitch it up. A planned unelected and unaccountable planning quango stuffed with New Labour lackeys, was designed for exactly this kind of confrontation to side-step objections. 

Heathrow isn't just huge, it's grotesque. A third runway will only add to the problems. 

Heathrow is being developed purely for the lucrative transatlantic trade and business traffic in particular. But in a few years time, that could be a road to nowhere as the world's financial centres continue to switch to the Far East. 

The Orange Party doesn't believe any further Heathrow expansion is necessary. High speed rail links in and out of the Capital would be a better, realistic solution. If there's an argument for a big London-based European hub, then Heathrow is not the answer. 

Business leaders say thousands of jobs rely on Heathrow expansion. Jobs sure, but they don't need to be created at Heathrow. 

But the arguments pale into insignificance with a general election looming. The government is out of touch with voters who are becoming increasingly angry and frustrated. Time and again the government gets away with doing just what it wants, regardless of public opinion. 

Heathrow expansion is another nail in its coffin. When New Labour's stranglehold on government bites the dust, the expansion plan will be booted out. 

Heathrow and its further expansion is just one of the crippling legacies of Brown's deluded blooming booming years. Once again we are being forced to live with that legacy until a new government sees sense and catches up with the times. 

UPDATE: Backbench true Labour MP, John McDonnell, has been suspended from the commons for five days. His crime? Running off with the sacred mace and attacking Hoon over the Heathrow runway with the words: "You are a disgrace to democracy." Thank god there are still Labour MPs with the guts to stand up to these morons.

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