Tuesday, May 13, 2003


No amount of toilet paper can clean up this poo. The dreadful sight of hyperbole masquerading as serious journalism.

"A report today raises the spectre of new runways at the South-East's three biggest airports - Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick." Spectre? Anyway, the possibility has existed ever since the Government went out to consultation on runway capacity in the South-East over a year ago.

"The tensions soared when, in a dramatic move, BAA swooped to kill off one plan which might have reduced the impact on homes, a new £11 billion airport at Cliffe, in Kent." Pure hyberbole.

"Today's report ... is bound to be highly influential with the Government." Why exactly?

"As the voice of Britain's biggest airports[voice? try, airport owner], BAA's opposition to Cliffe is probably a death knell. It dismissed Cliffe as a nonstarter, saying it would require billions in public subsidies." Or probably not necessarily. BAA as owner of the other 3 airports would say that.

"If the advice is accepted, all the flights earmarked for Cliffe will have to crowd into the "Big Three". And that means, according to BAA, choosing three of the following four runway locations." Advice? This is an opinion as part of a consultation exercise. Crowd into? The possible option is to build more capacity, not to "crowd into".

"* One at Heathrow, meaning extra noise and pollution over west London and taking the airport's total to three. * One at Gatwick - overturning a 1979 legal agreement not to expand there until 2019. * Up to two more at Stansted, drowning some of the region's prettiest villages in noise." Legal agreement? Does he mean legally binding agreement? It ain't one. Drowning in noise - I love that metaphor!

"Today's report is a political hand-grenade in the lap of Transport Secretary Alistair Darling who faces a tough dilemma if he accepts the BAA analysis." Cack! "Hand grenade?"

But, in the penultimate paragraph we get this "Today's report is the BAA submission to a year-long consultation on airport expansion, launched last summer." Yep. Consultation. And, the Government will look all submissions, not just one from a party which has a big stake in the outcome - BAA.

What would the (lack of) Standard(s) do instead? Does it want to prohibit the growth in air travel? If not, then presumably it favours building a new airport at Cliffe. Which is in the middle of nowhere; would cost £11billion of taxpayers money; has no transport links; would disturb a prime location for migratory birds and is not favoured by the airlines that would be forced to use it.

Or perhaps the Standard prefers the "no growth" option. In whci case, they should explain what this will do to London's standing as a centre of commerce and the effect on fares and overall congestion. The Standard is anti-congestion charge for cars. Sticking to "no growth" in air transport would reslt in a rationing and increased fares - a "congestion charge" on aviation.

The decision on runway capacity in the south-east (and elsewhere in the UK) will be made on the basis of all the evidence and not just from one report by BAA. The government will consider all the responses to consultation. It is not a question of who shouts loudest or who is more influential. It boils down to a political decision. There will be winners and losers and plenty of unhappy people. But, a decision must be made.

In the meantime, let's cut out the crappy articles by hack journalists looking for a scare mongering headline.

:: Posted by pete @ 12:19