Leading article: Snow does not justify a third runway

 

Share
Related Topics

The arrival of the winter's first serious snow across much of the country had the usual consequences. Gridlock on major arteries; closed, or seriously disrupted, airports, and a public outcry about the lack of preparation. As always, any difficulties tend to be seen through a metropolitan lens. London buses taken off the roads are treated as disaster, while cancellations at Heathrow are cited as symptoms of a peculiarly British malaise. As they were again yesterday.

Looking through the same metropolitan lens, we should say, for fairness's sake, that the capital managed to keep the traffic and public transport moving. This was an improvement on last year – helped, no doubt, by Sunday morning traffic being relatively light and the healthy state of local authority salt stocks. Not least, though, the weather forecast was heeded and turned out to be correct.

But still many Heathrow flights were pre-emptively cancelled, with others diverted elsewhere, inconveniencing thousands of travellers. Gatwick coped better – which gave advocates of expansion at Heathrow an opportunity to resurrect their calls for a third runway. That Heathrow works so close to capacity means that it will inevitably come under particular pressure in bad weather. The answer, though, is not a third runway, but that it must bring its response up to top international standards.

To give it credit, progress seems to have been made. But it must also be recognised that Heathrow's geographical situation makes it prone to fog and snow – probably more so than other London airports – and that there will be times when every airport, however well prepared and advanced its technology, will be defeated by adverse weather. There is certainly room for more improvement at Heathrow, but it is unreasonable to expect perfection, and another runway – as weather-dependent as the other two – would solve nothing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A homeless person sleeps in the streets  

This is why I am sleeping rough outside the party conferences

Max J Freeman
Strikes were carried out by manned air force and navy aircraft (File photo)  

Syria air strikes: President Assad now has the enemy he always wanted – Islamist terrorism

Kim Sengupta
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits