I mused yesterday on the scale of public support for an airport in the Thames estuary. While no direct indication of public reaction, it is always instructive to observe the media response and here it is...
The Times is generally taking the stance that Britain needs a new airport, whatever the consequences. It suggests that Heathrow’s 3rd terminal was only avoided as an election ploy for west London voters. Now it seems, the Tories can’t turn back on it. Many are now warming to the idea. The headline ‘Olympic call for airfields to help avoid ignominy of ‘Third World’ Heathrow’ implies that embarrassment of overcrowding is the main problem. They talk about the temporary terminal but imply it won’t help our economics for long. The conservation side was very much an afterthought on the 2 page spread. However, an opinion piece by Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of International Airline Group gives an entirely different perspective suggesting that the scheme is likely to be politically unacceptable and passengers and airlines will only move if Heathrow is closed.
The Guardian seems fairly sure that Boris’s leaking of info to the Telegraph has killed off his plans with the Lib Dems opposition to any expansion in South East. There are two full articles in guardian online. Juliette Jowitt has a kinder introduction into the birds it will impact and the significance of the protected areas involved. Damian Carrington’s environmental blog is calling the government’s claims to be green, cynical. He points out that if a cavalier attitude to carbon emissions doesn’t worry you, it should.The Daily Mail seems positive about the Thames options being explored.The Daily Telegraph " href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/9023815/Nick-Clegg-threatens-to-veto-unviable-vision-of-a-new-airport-in-the-Thames-Estuary.html">The Daily Telegraph blames Nick Clegg for threatening to ‘sink’ Boris Island airport. They have a pro and con box of Boris Island, Lord Foster’s proposal, Stansted, Gatwick and Birmingham. Boris Island comes off pretty well, followed closely by Gatwick. The Independent provides a much more balance two page spread introducing the environmental argument early on. It highlights the conflicts of local people as well as the wider environmental impact. A for and against box from Simon Calder, Travel Editor and Michael McCarthy, Environment editor discusses the possibility of cutting emissions and increasing flying. Again, Gatwick is mentioned as least objectionable proposal.
And as for the broadcast media, our man Rolf Williams, appeared on the 6 o'clock and 10 o'clock news as well as Newsight (about 30 minutes in). The latter is worth a watch. Rolf is great and I think that there are enough arguments in this clip to kill off the idea.
It seems that there is going to be a consultation, that the Thames Airport will feature as an option and my best guess is that it will be dropped. It is a huge distraction and will generate great unease for the communities in the Thames. But we will not be complacent. We will fight this.
What is your assessment of the public mood about new airports and what do you think we should do to manage demand for flying?
It would be great to hear your views.
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