Finally after a week of pro-Heathrow aviation spin the Standard, they publish some letters against
Last week saw a series of stunningly one-sided pieces in the Evening Standard, putting the pro-Heathrow expansion case with no attempt at balance – and unquestioningly regurgitating aviation industry lobbying without any critical analysis. The last one on Friday was by Tim Yeo, saying that he now backs a Heathrow third runway. But this article contained so many really bizarre, and mis-informed statements, (such as claiming that planes will be so quiet that people will not notice them flying overhead at night,and that a third Heathrow runway will not increase UK emissions) that the Standard could see it was time to put a few of the opposing arguments. There are today 4 letters in the Standard, including one from AirportWatch. The letters are on CO2 and the ETS; the phenomenal connectivity that Heathrow already has; the fallacy of quiet aircraft in future; and the dismal air quality around Heathrow already.
Below is yet another of the Evening Standard’s completely uncritical offerings, promoting the pro-Heathrow expansion camp. It really does contain some manifest nonsense.
For some reason, the Standard have produced articles like the one below, on Tim Yeo, every day all last week. (see Standard articles for more details).
However, the extent of the bias, and the absence of any good reason for this flurry of free promotion for the aviation lobby, seems to have caught up with the Standard.
In order to correct – to some extent – the unreasonable and somewhat suspicious bias, they have kindly published four letters against Heathrow expansion, covering four key points (many more could have been critiqued):
~ Carbon emissions and the ETS;
~ the phenomenal connectivity that Heathrow already has;
~ the fallacy of quiet aircraft in future;
~ and the dismal air quality around Heathrow already.
You can enjoy the rather bizarre, and surprisingly mis-informed utterances by Tim Yeo below, and the 4 letters before that.
Evening Standard. 28th May 2012. Letters (Page 53)
Why I now back a third runway at Heathrow, by the man who turned Tories green
25 May 2012
Long before David Cameron hugged his huskies, another senior Tory was banging on about climate change and trying to persuade his colleagues to turn against the relentless growth of aviation.
Eight years ago, the former Environment Minister Tim Yeo drove a revolution in Tory thinking that embraced the science of climate change and questioned the conventional arguments for air expansion. Yeo, one could say, is the father figure of the Coalition’s embargo against a third runway at Heathrow.
But now he has abandoned his brainchild. Now he says a third runway cannot be put off. “We need it within 10 years, and preferably within five, or the Chinese and others will take their business elsewhere,” he told the Evening Standard. “We cannot afford to delay.”
So what changed his mind? Anyone assuming a Damascene conversion will be disappointed. Yeo was unusual among Tories a decade ago because he agreed wholeheartedly with the “compelling science” that mankind was causing temperatures to rise through carbon emissions. But he approached it as a businessman, not a tree hugger.
“My thinking was that those countries which decarbonised their infrastructure would have a competitive advantage in the 2020s because the price of carbon is likely to go up very substantially.” Under international treaties, carbon pollution has to be paid for.
Mr Yeo, 67, was no newcomer to the field. He was Countryside Minister in John Major’s government in the Nineties, trade & industry spokesman under Iain Duncan Smith’s shadow cabinet and then shadow environment & transport minister for Michael Howard in 2004 when he began working on the change of policy. “It was quite a difficult task at the time. They have become much more receptive since David became leader.”
The decisive moment was a “brave” change of European Union policy in January this year that meant flights taking off or landing in the EU will come under a European carbon cap, so that the total rather than one airport is limited. “Even if we build 10 more runways at Heathrow it would not add a single gram of carbon dioxide to the emissions in the EU,” he said. “That was the trigger point.”
Another factor is the astonishing economic boom in the Far East, in cities that have no direct flights to Britain. “There were now quite a significant number of major cities that had direct flights to other European cities but not to London. That handicaps British business quite materially,” he said.
Other changes that make a third runway necessary are the introduction of new, quieter aircraft on premium routes. “Because Heathrow is seen as a very important hub the airlines choose the newest and therefore quietest aircraft to fly here,” he said. “Providing Heathrow maintains its leadership then more of the planes landing and taking off will be the quietest in the world. If we lose that status we will get older, noisier planes.”
He recalls flying to Chongqing, a city of 28 million people, to make a speech to the university and having to fly via Hong Kong, taking up a whole day. “That is ridiculous. People who travel regularly to the East will know how out of date much of our transport infrastructure actually is.”
Business travellers would rather do a deal in a place that is easy to get to: “All the evidence is that travellers like convenience. Therefore the hub airports are the ones that work.”
He rejects the Boris Island solution as too slow. “Creating something from scratch is appealing but would take too long,” he said. “The earliest we could open Boris Island is 20 years and by that time these great cities in China will have formed their links with Europe — and Britain will have been penalised permanently.“
He thinks Gatwick could be expanded if it had high speed links with Heathrow, at a pinch, but Stansted is too far away. Yeo senses David Cameron and George Osborne are ready to change to an open-minded stance in the next Tory manifesto and suggests that Transport Secretary Justine Greening, a diehard opponent of a third runway, will have to sit out of the decision.
Yeo has been ahead of the curve twice now — so his predictions for the future are worth heeding: “In the next 100 years planes will get bigger and quieter and so the opportunities for night flights will increase. At present Heathrow is virtually shut down for six hours every night. We can see in 100 years larger volumes of traffic with much less disruption. People would not worry about planes if they could not hear them.”
A bigger, busier but quieter Heathrow open 24 hours a day? It could be heading our way.
Spate of suspiciously pro-Heathrow articles that have appeared in the Evening Standard. Why?
May 24, 2012 Something odd is going on at the Standard. There is a new editor, Sarah Sands. And the paper has done three days on the trot of large articles giving the maximum publicity it dares to promoting the BAA line that Heathrow has to be expanded. Without any new facts or particularly strong arguments to back up the hype. With the aviation policy due to start some time in the next few months, the Standard appears to be putting all its effort into changing the climate of opinion in London, by this rather unsubtle publicity drive. Who is paying for it? Who is behind it? Why is no other point of view being put? All rather suspicious. Not a sign of a well edited newspaper. And some of the economic claims are pretty laughable. But the Standard got Boris re-elected, so they hope they can work their magic again on the runway issue … Click here to view full story…