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Answering the London Assembly

I was surprised to see KJM Today covering the London Assembly’s anti-Heathrow expansion propaganda on August 21. As a pro-aviation website and news source, I expected better despite the counter arguments offered at the end of the piece.

The reality is that Heathrow served 88.1m passengers in 2018, almost exactly ten times the population of London. There could never be a more fitting circumstance for the saying ”the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few”. Air travel continues to grow at around 5% per annum, and UK plc will need it even more should the country misguidedly crash out of the EU without an exit deal. And yet attempts are being made to halt Heathrow expansion - the growth of the UK’s primary long-haul air hub - by a selfish minority who care more about what’s in their back yard than the good of the country.

It’s ironic that many of those involved in the opposition live close to Heathrow, in London suburbs where success and vibrancy is directly impacted and improved by the jobs and income Heathrow generates. Moving London’s biggest aviation terminus elsewhere (such as the Thames estuary) would devastate the economy of the very areas where much of the Heathrow expansion opposition comes from - and yet the locals can challenge Heathrow, safe in the knowledge there is little chance of “Boris Island” being resurrected.

Aviation has made tremendous strides to become cleaner since the ‘60s and ‘70s when first generation jets belched black smoke with almost deafening roars. The latest 737s and A320s are far quieter and cleaner than the models they replace. The industry is on target to achieve carbon-neural growth later this decade, the only thing inhibiting it from having happened already is the tremendous increase in demand to travel by air. That demand isn’t going to disappear, but if the UK loses it the country will be even more damaged by its forthcoming separation from the EU.

Heathrow has already proposed the world’s most stringent and costly congestion charging measures aimed at cutting emissions from vehicles accessing the airport. There is a limit to how much travellers should be prepared to pay to assuage the concerns of the selfish few who live near to and reap the economic rewards of living near a major air hub. If the measures do not succeed in improving the air quality associated with an expanded airport, it says only one thing - demand for aviation is insatiable and needs to be dealt with rather than pushed to one side.

The harsh reality the country needs to deal with is that aviation will continue to grow, and solutions needs to be found to accommodate it. The solution isn’t pushing scheduled flights out to Southend, Stansted or Luton. Nor is it taxing the passengers who need or want to travel, and contribute to the viability of the West London and the UK as a whole. No, the solution is to expand Heathrow. Yes its right to ensure the local residents are adequately compensated if they are forced to move. Yes, it’s right to offer measures to help mitigate the impact of a growing airport.

But no, it’s absolutely not right that a selfish minority can hold the whole country and it’s economy to ransom.

Image - Heathrow Airport

Editorial note:

KJM Today will continue to support Heathrow Airport, its expansion, the opportunities that will bring and the jobs that go along with it.

Nevertheless, we will also provide space to those who oppose our view.

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