Thursday, 24 November 2011

Why I am apposed to a Thames Estuary Airport

By building new airports we will be contributing to the global rise in greenhouse gas emmissions, air travel being one of the worst culprits, increasing to the problem of climate change in already stricken locations such as the Sahel region of Africa and increasing the burden of support required for future generations, not to mention hindering rather than helping to meet our Kyoto and domestic emmissions targets and placing even more burden on the domestic power user.

The cost of the project raises concern as well, how much are the tax payers going to have to contribute to the billions required when the NHS, education, housing and welfare and elderly are all in such need at the moment?

Then there are the practical considerations, the chaos of the South-East road network last winter during the snow highlighted the problems faced in an already crowded South-East. No matter how many train links are built, there will still be many airport users who will be relying on their cars to get them to flights adding to already congested roads in the area and the dreaded prospect of more cars on the M25.

There is also the practicality of building an airport on or near the Isle of Grain and the marshes on both sides of the estuary. These are important sites for migrating birds and the birds are not going to simply move away from their traditional winter sites, causing bird strike hazards for every plane arriving at the airport. Marshes also help to protect the Thames itself, a natural valve for floodwater and water level rises. There will have to be, no doubt, extraordinary engineering projects to not only protect the Thames valley and London but the airport itself, all at potentially huge further cost as sea levels continue to rise due to climate change exacerbated not least by the increase in air traffic...

Which brings me to the noise pollution, increasing air traffic over the already busy South East, the fact that the train lines are pointing into London and bypassing the (hopefully soon a city) Medway Towns, the removal of the wrecks lying in the estuary...

I can see there is a desperate need for more jobs in Kent and the UK but I firmly believe that the airport, like many vanity projects before it (the cost to the tax payer of the millenium dome for one) will ultimately cost this country far more than it would eventually provide in jobs and homes and would not combat the problems our school leavers/graduates face right now.

If this country really needs more airport capacity it makes far more sense, would cost far less and have infrastructure already there to look again at existing airports.
There is a perfectly good train system to Europe from London and the south-east which businesses should be encouraged to use, cutting down pressure on Stanstead and removing the need for European flights from Heathrow and Gatwick and allowing that spare capacity to be used for long haul flights. Business should also be encouraged to use far more innovative technology to keep in contact globally, such as conference calling and the internet, providing cost effective measures in travel budgets for companies in a time of global downturn. I believe the business communities do not need more airports but a better rationalisation of the services already available and better rail network within all areas of the UK.

If new runways are unavoidable, we should look again at existing runways in the UK such as Manston, Bournemouth, ex-military airfields around London and northern airports that might provide capacity and better value for money for the tax payer.

And finally, I can't help feeling that because the site is the Thames Estuary and in the already very built-up South-East, the environmental impact on these fragile, remaining natural estuary reserves is being overlooked, I guess if it was called 'The National Thames Estuary Park' nobody would want to concrete over it.