Days ahead of the government's decision to approve the controversial third runway at Heathrow Airport, it was revealed that Greenpeace had purchased a one-acre plot of land on the proposed site, alongside actress Emma Thompson, comedian Alistair McGowan and environmental campaigner Zac Goldsmith. Thousands of protesters have since signed up to buy a slice of the plot through the Greenpeace website. A third runway would see the number of flights almost double to 700,000 a year, making Heathrow the biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in Britain.
The boss of BAA, Colin Matthews, and the Prime Minster, Gordon Brown, have said that the runway will not go ahead unless a series of conditions, including strict environmental limits, are met, says Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. But these are empty promises. Ministers lie because they cannot resist Big Carbon (or the flight upgrades they are 'shrewdly' given by the industry) and because they know that they will be out of sight when their pledges are broken. And it is a fallacy that a third runway will be an economic boon. The 50,000 jobs that the runway would allegedly create could equally well be provided by rebuilding Britain's mental health infrastructure.
We should stop worrying, says The Independent on Sunday, because the runway will never be built. Heathrow airport already breaches the limits that will be set by European anti-pollution laws, and the recession makes the business case for expansion weaker. And if Labour does lose the next election, the Tories have promised to rip up the plans. A good thing too, says Ross Lyall in The Scotsman. The airline industry may whine "like a spoiled child", but it's time it was told to shut up.
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