In George Orwell’s startlingly prescient novel – Nineteen Eighty Four, the more than just insightful author wrote about a future Britain, and our current country isn’t far from his bleak vision. The way we’re going with surveillance society, government acting like Orwell’s totalitarian Big Brother and now the United Kingdom as Airstrip One. In the novel Britain is a province of the super-power Oceania and was the setting of many airports and landing strips, and it was just a few days ago that the Mayor of London was talking about the future of aviation in Great Britain.
A third runway has been proposed for Heathrow, already Britain’s busiest and most popular airport, therefore taking one step closer to Orwell’s prediction of the UK becoming Airstrip One. There are supporters and resistors on either side of the idea. The main advantages would be of course, improved air service for more international flights and to ease the pressure on Heathrow’s current two runways and the South-East in general therefore reducing waiting times for customers all over. However the opposition argues about the massive increase in air and noise pollution that a new runway would inevitably entail.
London’s capacity for aviation has been a source of concern for some politicians and industry insiders for some years now, but many have also vehemently opposed the expansion of Heathrow. Controversially the government announced an aviation review to be submitted by 2015, which begs the question – What do we do about over capacity for the next three years? Although a thorough and comprehensive review is totally necessary, does it really take three years to compose? This highlights a bigger problem in politics with parties turning one-hundred and eighty degrees on their policies.
If David Cameron goes ahead and begins supporting the proposal of a third runway for Heathrow then it’s a complete U-turn on what he claimed before and since his election which was a pledge against the development of a third runway at London Heathrow. But Heathrow isn’t the only possible destination, there is of course also London Stansted and London Gatwick, where a third runway could be installed in order to ease the congestion that the South-East consistently struggles with.
Mainly due to London being the capital and a major world city, not to mention the natural geography (Great Britain is a larger land mass towards the bottom than the top) the South’s capacity for air travel is under pressure because there are so many people down here. Whatever happens, waiting until 2015 isn’t a great idea because something a lot more productive could be done with those three years, whether it’s get going on Heathrow or put together well thought-through proposals for alternative sites such as Gatwick and Stansted.