Third runway grounded? Not quite yet...

Posted by jamie — 13 October 2009 at 4:45pm - Comments

How the Sunday Times reported the story

'BAA to give up on third runway' ran the headline in this weekend's Sunday Times and with the recent good news about Kingsnorth delay, there was a moment when I thought it was my Christmas and birthday presents rolled in to one. But unpick the details and unfortunately it's not quite the prize it appears to be.

Let's look at the two key bits of information in the story:

BAA is not going submit their planning application before the general election

BAA executives may have told the Tories at their conference that a planning application wouldn't be submitted until after the general election, but it was back in March when they first said those documents wouldn't see the light of day until 2012. So that's not ground breaking.

The Tories will not let the third runway be built

Again, this we already knew. Last Tuesday, the Evening Standard ran a big story with comments by a shadow minister confirming that David Cameron's commitment to stop the third runway would be reiterated in the Conservatives' manifesto. Of course, a lot could happen and minds could be changed between now and some unspecified future date when a potential Tory government holds true and shuts the plan down.

So if the Tories put 'no third runway' in their manifesto, and if they get into power, and if they actually fulfill their manifesto commitments, then the third runway won't be built. Probably. Apart from reports of some unsubstantiated discussions between BAA and Tory party aides, it's pretty much as it was before and we need to hold the Tories to their promises.

The upswing is that by their very presence, stories like this can help to create a climate where the third runway becomes less and less viable. A glass half empty person might also mention how it could be a sleight of hand, intended to give the impression that the campaign was over while negotiations between BAA and politicians continue.

For now, it remains on the cards and we can't miss a step. We have to keep up the momentum until the uncertainty ends and government policy or legislation precludes expansion at airports around the country. Until then, the campaign is still on.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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