More planes won’t solve transport they are part of the problem that’s keeping UK productivity low: pollution, congestion, and decreasing everyday quality of life. What’s more, there is an increasing sense of dispossession and resentment as people experience less and less control over changes occurring around them.
Having a holiday somewhere more idyllic once or twice a year does not fix this.
George Osbourne is currently relaxing planning rules like some Neoliberal Demigod. There will be automatic building permission on brown field sites and penalties for Councils that don’t meet house building targets: houses are to be built regardless of objections from residents, however justified these may be. And so the political stick keeps beating us:
No long strategic planning (whack). Development (whack). More people (whack). Pollution (whack). More lack of long term strategic planning…
Unfortunately for UK taxpayers, the bottom line for a good, long term transport policy is that it works as a whole. Getting to work is a real issue for many people. Our rail systems, even in the Southeast, are seriously underdeveloped and over used, not to mention too expensive. Wasting hours in a car watching someone else’s bumper is an everyday reality. I now find myself incandescent with rage that the Government are still considering throwing loads of taxpayer’s money at the aviation sector- which a recent study shows is mainly benefitting just 15% of the population on leisure trips. Most of the frequent flyer trips are to tax havens.
Plus Cameron is still apparently considering Gatwick expansion! The facts are stark when you look at them:
Heathrow (current capacity 65m passengers per year)
– access to M1, M3, M40,M4, A3
– 3 junctions from M25
– major road links into central London – M4, A4
– Victoria line.
– Heathrow Express.
– Heathrow Connect.
– Cross Rail (soon to be completed).
– HS2 spur to Heathrow – planned
– Bristol link – Government pledged up to £500 million to link Bristol with Heathrow.
Gatwick (forecast capacity 95m passengers per year)
– access to M23
– one junction from M25,
– access to central London A23
– one rail line (London to Brighton and already over capacity)
Margaret Thatcher, who few would criticise in terms of free market principles, once put it well when she said: “We should always remember that free markets are a means to an end. They defeat their object if by their output they did more damage to the quality of life than the wellbeing they achieve by the production of goods and services.”
Making a judgment about when it is right to pursue growth and when the consequences are too negative for it to be worth it is something one can observe when looking at bacterial growth in a petri dish. Applying a stick to this process does little to change the outcome.