IoS letters, emails & online postings (9 September 2012)

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The Independent Online

Your article, "Secret plan for four-runway airport west of Heathrow" (2 September), shows what we all feared – that the Government is hell bent on airport expansion at any cost. 

Aviation already accounts for about 13 per cent of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions. If allowed to continue unchecked, aviation growth will make it impossible for the UK to meet its target of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Recent research by the Aviation Environment Federation suggests that the UK already has sufficient airport infrastructure to meet the maximum levels of future demand that would be consistent with the limits on aviation growth recommended by the Climate Change Committee.

Aviation currently depends on huge public subsidies. At a time of austerity, how sensible is it for investment to be directed into the fastest-growing emitter of CO2 when we have legal obligations to reduce these levels?

The health impacts of the ensuing noise and air pollution are now much better understood, yet the Government does not seem concerned to address these issues, except when it affects Tory MPs' West London constituents who live under the Heathrow flight path.

Keith Taylor and Jean Lambert

Green MEP for South East England

Green MEP for London

London N1

Your report on building a new airport allows me to suggest putting it in the middle of the English Channel. Finished laughing? The Channel is the busiest shipping route in the world, but traffic must keep to the right of a sandbank running down the middle .

Building on marine sandbanks is not new (look at Japan and Dubai); the ridge could take an airport, a mile wide and 10 long. It would not affect birds or people, and it could replace Gatwick, Paris, Brussels, and Heathrow.

A new Maglev train tunnel (eg, Shanghai/airport) could get you to London in 20 minutes, Brussels 30, Paris and The Hague 40, and Amsterdam in an hour. To replace Heathrow and Gatwick, even at £180bn, shared with two other countries, is cheaper than £60bn for Heathrow alone.

And it would be future proof: giant planes, long runways and new technology would create fewer problems in the unpopulated Channel.

Rod Cox

Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, Denbighshire

Robert Fisk's access to prisoners in a Syrian jail is unprecedented ("Syria's road from jihad to prison", 2 September); why is that? The interviewees selected for him are all "foreign" jihadists; why is that? The prison governor and intelligence officer seem to fall over themselves to accommodate him; why is that? This is a blinding piece of PR from the Syrian government and we can hardly credit that a "veteran" journalist and a respected liberal newspaper fell for it.

Juliette Harkin, Dr Rupert Read and Odai Al-Zoubi (all University of East Anglia), Hussam Eddin Mohammad, Amjad Nasser, Nouri al-Jarrah, Mohammad Marsharka, Ghalia Kabbani, Jomaa Boukleib, Bassam Jaara, Fadel al-Sultani, Rebaee al-Modhoun, Mohammad Fattouh, Eyad Abu Shakra, Munzer Zamalkani (University of St Andrews), Fathieh Saudi

Norwich

Malcolm Morriston (Letters, 2 September) makes doctors sound like dispassionate scientists interested only in how to heal and save lives. I think, as my end nears, I'll call my compassionate vet, who, if unable to heal, and to prevent undue suffering, will feel it his duty to bring that life to an end.

John Lewis

Swansea

John Rentoul thinks Michael Gove has done well to "accelerate" New Labour's school reforms ("Who will come top of the Cabinet class?", 2 September). Well, that is what Gove would like us to think anyway. Blair's plans for academies were a genuine attempt to address issues of the performance of working-class students in some schools, to be discussed and deployed if appropriate, by agreement. By contrast, Gove has used a variety of methods to impose academies, often against the wishes of teachers and parents. That doesn't sound to me like continuing the work of New Labour.

Keith Flett

London N17

"Naomi Alderman's new novel retells the story of Christ from a Jewish perspective" (Books, 2 September). Who do you think wrote the Gospels? P G Wodehouse?

John Reilly

via email

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Letters to the Editor, The Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF. Email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk. Online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2012/Sept/9

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