Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bristol Airport's White Elephant

A couple of items of news caught my eye recently related to the white-elephant that is Bristol Airport's expansion. First was a survey reported in the Independent that said 22% of people would be prepared to fly less as a response to global warming. Assuming the other 78% are not prepared to give up flying at their current level (two trips per year on average, the article did not mention that they would increase their level of flying)- then where is the market for increased airport expansion going to come from? Next was a comment by a government bod in a debate with George Monbiot on the Today Program where he said they needed to look again at current airport expansion plans. Monbiot was attacking the goverment's lack of real action on the issue. He said that government needed to intervene to stop flying being so subsidised. The government were clearly on the defensive and it got me thinking; Is all the money being spent on planning the expansion going to be wasted by a government who will refuse it (while allowing the go-ahead for bigger airports' expansion) desperate to appear to be doing something about global warming?

Now I know the spods at Bristol Airport will push for expansion regardless of any other considerations – as that is their job – to fiddle while Rome burns, what surprises me is that the local council and the South West Regional Development Agency are backing it. This whole venture is subsidised by their support. That tax money going on this white-elephant that will, in the best case scenario, take people off on holiday away from a region that makes its money from tourism and worse case be an unused patch of concrete where country side that could have attracted tourists once was. Either way there is a heavy carbon cost to pay.

Shame on the 78% not prepared to give up some of their flying. Shame on North Somerset council for spending tax payers money on polluting the atmosphere and shame on SWRDA for a lack of clear forward thinking that will help the region move towards sustainable localised developments.

PS. There is a fundraiser for the anti-expansion campaign on 20th April worth checking out!

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