Friday, January 16, 2009

Broon and Hoon! Shitting on your toon!

The bumptious Geoff Hoon put the final nail in the coffin of New Labour's environmental credibility yesterday when he declared - without a Commons vote - the government's approval of a third runway at Heathrow. If built (and the Tories have said that, if elected, it won't be; but can we believe them?), the new runway will make Heathrow the single biggest source of CO2 in Britain. That's about 27 million tonnes a year - equivalent to the emissions from 4 coal-fired power stations. Such a development will lay waste our attempts, supposedly enshrined in law by the Climate Change Act, to cut our contribution to global warming. It will shatter the lives of hundreds of people whose homes will be destroyed to make way for the planes. It will make the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners and others living under the flight-paths (that means the whole of my family) almost unbearable. The decision goes against moral and economic sense: recession and Peak Oil, anyone? And perhaps most damagingly - as I have to hope that direct action, civil disobedience and legal challenges will prevent this hateful prospect from becoming a reality - it further undermines the resolve of our nation to change. What hope is there of effecting a behavioural shift when the most powerful body in the land ignores its own rhetoric? Indeed, why the hell should people reduce their ecological footprint when binge flight culture and its proponents at BAA can wreck the planet at will? Like many environmentalists, I struggle to convey the urgency of the crisis we face and the necessity for personal action when all that people hear from government is doublespeak and hypocrisy. My outrage is feelingly expressed by the wonderful Emma Thompson and the truly Honourable Member for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonell MP.

There will be an heroic struggle to prevent a third runway. It is already uniting people from very disparate backgrounds: a truly popular and democratic attempt to save ourselves. As someone who grew up under Heathrow's planes and knows intimately how they shatter the tranquility one needs to live a decent life, I will continue to post on this battle in the months and years to come.


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