2nd November 2014
by John Stewart
I would argue that it is not Nimby to oppose expansion at Heathrow. That’s not to say that there are a lot of people opposing it on Nimby grounds.
But the day after the Observer revealed that many in the current cabinet are against a third runway – theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/01/third-runway-heathrow-gatwick-expansion?CMP=twt_gu … – it is worth saying that a strong case can be made against Heathrow expansion on grounds that has very little to do with Nimbyism.
Many of the arguments have been well-rehearsed.
According to the European Commission, there are at least 720,000 people living under the Heathrow flight paths; that is 28% of all people impacted by aircraft noise across Europe. http://hacan.org.uk/10-reasons-to-oppose-a-3rd-runway/
The Heathrow flight paths go over more deprived areas (as well as some of the richest) than any other UK airport (though, calculated by percentage of the population of the city affected, Glasgow may be higher)
Air Pollution levels around Heathrow tend to be stubbornly above the EU legal limits
And the economic case for Heathrow expansion is not, in my view, a game-changer. More business people and tourists fly into London each year than fly to any other city in the world. Most have no preference which airport they use. This trend will continue whether or not a third runway is built at Heathrow. Read more in this blog click here and click here http://hacan.org.uk/blog/?p=321
The non-nimby case against Heathrow expansion is expanded on the HACAN website: http://hacan.org.uk/10-reasons-to-oppose-a-3rd-runway/
To be fair to Heathrow, and much of the aviation industry, they have never accused HACAN of being nimby. The accusation tends to come from a myriad of individuals.
Quite simply, I would not be prepared to lead a nimby campaign. I have watched nimbys in action and I don’t like what I see. I get particularly irriated by nimbys picking and choosing arguments to ‘support’ their case when they really mean ‘not in my backyard’.
Let’s not lower the Heathrow argument to nimbyism. An economic argument can be made for the expansion of Heathrow. I believe a stronger overall argument can be made against it. The fact that leading politicians of all parties – some of them with no constituency interest in the matter – have come out against expansion re-enforces my view there is a powerful (non-nimby) case against a 3rd runway. I urge all those who so freely throw around the accusation of nimbyism to join in the debate that is taking place.