I have Fandango to thank for this title – he has been posting regularly on this subject from his west-coast-USA vantage point. I am interested in current affairs too, and normally have some nonsense or other to spout about one of the UK’s topical news stories. So, I like to join in. Maybe there’s something in your world that you’d like to post about?
Developing new airport capacity has long been a thorny issue in the UK. After lengthy debate last time around, the Cameron governent announced that there would indeed be new capacity, somewhere, then launched an inquiry to determine where.
In 2015, the newly-elected MP for Uxbridge, the constituency in which Heathrow Airport lay, promised he would not let the project go ahead. It was a popular move among locals – with two runways already, many people felt that there was more than enough noise there already.
I will join you. I will lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway, said the fired-up MP, a chap by the name of Boris Johnson. When push came to shove, though, the government did select Heathrow for the extra capacity. Calmed down some by now, though, Mr Johnson was absent in 2018, when the crucial vote on the extra runway took place. I guess he thought that being away was his best career option – he opposed the projeect itself, but at the same time, did not wish to directly oppose his own government.
Other people were not so wishy-washy in their opposition, however, and after the decision, took the government to court. You see, half-hearted as the Paris Climate Agreement was, it was, at least, ratified in UK law, and the campaigners claimed that the government was obliged to take account of the agreement in any decision, and it had failed to do this. The court, this week, agreed with them.
The thing I found remarkable about this was the follow-on story, which broke just a few hours later. The government will not appeal the decision. Do you maybe get the sense that there might be a certain amount of relief that they lost their own case? Johnson is newly in control, after all*.
Heathrow Airport, undoubtedly, will appeal the decision. After all, they just saw all that money evaporate. Their argument is simply that the business that would have been generated by an extra runway will now just go to Paris or Amsterdam instead, so the environment won’t actually win, whatever the UK’s decision.
For my money, though, something is either right or it is wrong, and we should behave accordingly. Wrong doesn’t become right, simply because our neighbour is doing it. Let’s hope the French and the Dutch agree, and also do the right thing. The environmental debate was always about the yes/no?, and not the where? So now we need other people to follow the UK’s decision.
But the biggest win here, I haven’t even mentioned yet. The biggest win is the precedent that now exists in the UK, that new infrastructure projects must be tested against our environmental obligations. If they don’t come up to scratch, then we can expect legal challenges. New roads, for example, and only a couple of weeks ago here, the government confirmed a new high-speed railway line (imaginitively called HS2) which again, will have to pass these tests.
So, I do actually have a winner this week, but unfortunately I don’t know their name. It is the poor sod who would have been tasked with clearing Johnson’s muddy, bloody, but very flat corpse from underneath that bulldozer, because … what a bastard of a job that would have been!