The Guardian view on Heathrow expansion: better never than so late | Editorial
A third runway at Heathrow airport is ultimately indefensible on environmental grounds
The decision to go ahead with the third runway at Heathrow was taken two years ago; Chris Grayling’s confirmation yesterday marked the point when it seemed to its promoters that enough of the opposition on the ground had been defeated, so it was safe to proceed with a final vote in three weeks’ time. If that is won, and all goes according to plan, the bulldozers will go in around 2021, when the inevitable cycle of cost overruns and slipping deadlines can begin, 31 years after the project was first mooted. By then the UK may be two years into a lengthy “transitional” post-Brexit period, and the bright economic forecasts which are used to justify the plan may be no more use than hot air balloons.
There is a case that air travel has made life better for many people and that more of it would continue to do so. Nearly two-thirds of Heathrow’s present traffic is leisure flying. Mass tourism has boosted the economy of many countries and greatly enlarged our experience of the world, and perhaps our sympathies as well. However unpleasant the experience of a modern airport can be, through which we are run like rats in a maze of shopping malls and security checks, it still seems better to many of us than being trapped in our own countries all year round. Heathrow as it stands today is an unimposing portal to Britain. Failing to expand it is simply sabotaging the country. Beyond that, the country is dependent, like all others, on air freight. So the plans for expansion are in some ways well motivated. We can even overlook the fact that they are promoted by Mr Grayling, a man notoriously unable to make even trains run on time.
Source: Guardian Transport