The British government is supporting the building of a £2.7bn second runway at Stansted airport. Already the atmosphere in the area is polluted to twice the level known to cause environmental damage. Increased airport use is expected to cause more pollution which will seriously damage Hatfield Forest, one of the oldest in Europe.
Quite apart from this, it is difficult to understand how the government balances this expansion with its commitment to cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2050. UK carbon emissions fell at the end of the 90s but they are on the rise again, and the 64,000 additional flights each year will mean that deeper cuts must be made elsewhere.
And then there’s the issue of resources.
Peak Oil means that fuel for all sorts of transport is starting to run out. There is no substitute for oil for aviation fuel, and even the oil industry itself is beginning to admit that future supplies will be more difficult to get and much more expensive. The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) believes that energy shortages are much closer and much more serious than the effects of climate change. (Read their newsletter.)
Nevertheless, the government continues to act as though economic growth can last for ever. When resources become scarce will we come to resent the resources wasted on airports we can no longer use?