As I write this at 10:18 p.m. on 10th September 2015, an aeroplane has just flown overhead, disturbing the peace and quiet of Teddington.
It’s a regular occurrence happening roughly every 3 minutes for bursts of three hours every other day. And randomly at other times. This morning it started at 5:45 a.m.
It’s pretty unpleasant, but not surprising since I live roughly 10 kilometres from Heathrow airport. It is inevitably occasionally noisy.
For me – like most people in the area – this is just a fact of life and I just get on with things. Some people find it unbearable.
And there are much worse places than Teddington. For example, in Richmond the noise is much worse.
So what do I think about the proposal to build a third runway at Heathrow?
From a personal point of view I would obviously like the airport noise to go away.
But I acknowledge that the country needs airports, and that those in the South-East are full.
And for me – that’s it.
If it’s not built in my ‘back yard’ it will be built in someone else’s.
The reason I feel this is simple: the country needs lots of things besides airports – some much more urgently. For example:
- We need houses – and lots of them.
- We need wind turbines – and lots of them
- We need places to permanently dispose of nuclear waste.
And the people who live in the places where these things are proposed inevitably complain that a thing – whatever it is – will make there lives marginally worse.
In short, they complain because something will change which benefits their fellow citizens, but brings no personal benefit to them.
So I don’t feel I can object to Heathrow expansion given that it’s a decision based on the best interests of the UK and was arrived at democratically.
Choice and cost
Insisting that an airport be built in a place which doesn’t degrade my quality of life would cost money. The Heathrow plan will cost about £20 billion but – for example – the cost of building an airport in the Thames estuary could be in excess of £100 billion.
This is equivalent to asking the other 37 million working age people who don’t live near Heathrow to pay an additional £2,400 each to keep me in the style to which I have become accustomed.
- Placing excessive restrictions on where houses can be built inflates the price of houses and brings misery to millions.
- Campaigning against Wind Turbines slows down our transition to a low-carbon electricity supply causing the unnecessary emission of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide.
- Objecting to the construction of a nuclear waste depository extends the highly unsatisfactory storage that currently exists – costing everyone else bilions of pounds while we wait to find a County Council to which will allow the project to go ahead.
The projects I have mentioned – and lots of others – represent cases where projects of national importance are routinely blocked by small numbers of people complaining very loudly.
But there is a bigger picture and we need to keep it clearly in mind if we want infrastructure which meets the needs of all the people that live here.
Post Script: I’ve finished editing this article on Sunday night 13th September, and I noticed the last plane fly over at 11:09 p.m. It’s been a long and noisy day – it must be time for bed.