Is the environment being sacrificed for the economy?
On 15th January the British government approved the construction of a third runway for Heathrow Airport, Europe's busiest airport. Whilst the project still requires planning permission, it has become subject to a huge controversy particularly opposed by environmentalists. Through the expansion of Heathrow Airport is the environment being sacrificed to improve the economy?
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
The British Government wants to sustain competition between Britain and its competitors no matter what.
The British Government has given the go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow Airport in the fear that without this expansion, Britain would be less competitive at a time when it is facing many economic challenges. Geoff Goon, the transportation secretary, has said that without the third runway, Heathrow would lose business to airports with more runways such as Paris, Madrid and Amsterdam (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/world/europe/16heathrow.html?_r=1&hp).
Therefore, in order to struggle against its economic situation, the British Government has sacrificed whatever it must in an attempt to savage its economy. In this case its sacrifice is the environment.
The environment is not the only sacrifice the government has made to ensure the protection of its economy. The building of a third runway would require the razing of an entire village, Sipson and the demolition of 700 homes. This would leave the residents homeless or struggling to find new homes. As a consequence, whilst the environment is considerably affected by this new development, the government is equally sacrificing the homes of hundreds of British residents.
Noise pollution will increase significantly.
Whilst the expansion to Heathrow Airport may bring some advantages to the economy, it will considerably disadvantage many citizens living within the area of which will be subject to increased noise pollution. The foreseen 125,000 more flights per year guarantee the existence of more noise caused by the raised number of planes as well as the noise caused by workers and builders during the years of development of this controversial project.
The government has vowed to stick to the European noise regulations (see below).
The noise in this context is irrelevant because what is being sacrificed is that now people have to bear a noisier noise not a serious environmental problem like the fire of forest etc
Air pollution will get even worse.
Additional air traffic will inevitably cause more problems in relation to air pollution. This will then worsen the situation with regards the Greenhouse effect, increasing the risk of global warming and dangering the climate.
In this sense, the British Government has sacrificed the environment for the economy as the project on Heathrow Airport will only result in more and more problems concerning the environment. The government has chosen to favour the economy.
Only limited and environmentally advanced planes will be permitted to use the new third runway to prevent creating more air pollution (see below).
The Heathrow Project will help the economy by some $10.2 billion per year.
Although the expansion of the third runway at Heathrow may cause some environmental difficulties, it will considerably help the economy by bringing in some $10.2 billion per year. The plan is set to create an estimated 65,000 jobs which at a time such as the present, will significantly aid many British residents. What is more, the development will improve business for many airlines (90 airlines have made Heathrow their base) who may also be struggling due to the financial crisis and thus this may help prevent bankruptcy. Serving over 180 destinations in more than 90 countries and some 67 million passengers per year this project is bound to drastically help the economy. Consequently, the British Government has chosen to sacrifice the environment in order to improve the economy.
It is difficult to establish that the project will help the economy when it is costing £9 billion ($13.2 billion) to create the third runway in the first place. This £9 billion could be put to better use during this "credit crunch" by helping struggling businesses and banks to get back on firm ground.
The British Government is still committed to cutting carbon emissions 80% by 2050.
Although the Heathrow airport expansion may appear to be favourising the economy over the environment, it is still apparent that the British Government aims to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050. From this fact, the government is not sacrificing the economy for the environment as it is ensuring the environment improves too in the long run. The transport secretary, Hoon has declared that these changes at Heathrow would allow Britain to lead the fight against climate change while still adding airport capacity (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h_JsY45seGLULqfvYyu-b-7e3dCgD95NT1F00).
In this sense, the British Government is trying to assure a balance between the improvements in the economy and the environment.
Even the transport secretary Geoff Hoon himself has admitted that "this gives us the toughest climate change regime of aviation of any country in the world". (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h_JsY45seGLULqfvYyu-b-7e3dCgD95NT1F00).
Subsequently, it is likely the government is still sacrificing the environment for the economy as by giving the go-ahead to the development at Heathrow, it is giving itself a major and unlikely challenge with regards the climate change.
The expanded airport will meet all European noise and carbon-emission regulations.
It has been confirmed that noise pollution limits will be met at Heathrow Airport, despite the new runway. Only environmentally advanced planes will be allowed the use the new runway and the government will only allow 125,000 more flights per year, not the 220,000 that had originally been sought. (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h_JsY45seGLULqfvYyu-b-7e3dCgD95NT1F00).
This is in an attempt to sustain the environment whilst helping the economic situation of the country.
Whilst the government is sticking to the regulations it does not mean that the project will not do more harm than good to the environment in the extra noise and carbon-emissions that it will cause.
The Government plans to build new, environmentally-friendly rail links.
To make up for the fact that it will be damaging the environment through its Heathrow expansion, the British government is considering the possibility of spending billions of pounds on new high speed railways to and from Heathrow and a new high speed rail link between London and Northern England. Large parts of Britain's rail network would be electrified so quieter and cleaner trains could be used.
So, in order to justify its harm to the environment through Heathrow Airport, the government will improve the environment in other ways, thus confirming that it has not sacrificed the environment for the economy.
Despite the government showing effort in trying to improve the environment in some way, it does not necessarily mean that these improvements to the environment are on the same wave-length as the damage that will be caused to the environment. It is just a weak excuse that the government is trying to use to convince the public that the environment is equally as important to them as the economy.
What do you think?