Simon Calder: Minimal fury for new Heathrow third runway plan ticks box for politicians
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Friday 07 June 2013
Regulars at the bar of the Five Bells in the village of Harmondsworth, just north of Heathrow, could last night celebrate the departure of runway blight. But customers at the pub’s namesake in Stanwell, on the other side of the airport, may be drinking at the last-chance saloon.
The proposed new southern runway could bring aircraft wingtips almost within dart-throwing distance.
“Gross National Happiness” is the concept used by the King of Bhutan to explain why development in his mountain domain is constrained. When a government and the aviation industry seek to expand airports in a crowded nation, they use a different concept: “Net Local Unhappiness”.
Their aim is to minimise the amount of fury their plans generate. According to these criteria, Heathrow “R3S” looks plausible. The intensity of opposition is much smaller for Stanwell Moor than for the villages of Harmondsworth and Sipson to the north, and the flightpaths would disturb fewer voters in marginal constituencies – the prime concern for many politicians.
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