How about this for ‘the greenest government ever’? Appointing as the new secretary of state for energy a man who hates windfarms, loves airports, and wants to maximise the exploitation of shale gas? Axing the Sustainable Development Commission which was designed to balance the interests of the economy and the environment? Going hell for leather now for a third Heathrow runway? Promising a green investment bank, but then delivering a mouse that isn’t a bank at all? And trying to privatise woods and forests, which after the reshuffle they may well return to? And dropping renewable sources of energy to go full steam ahead with nuclear?
It’s the sheer brazenness of it all that takes the breath away. The Coalition Agreement states unequivocally: “we wil cancel the third runway at Heathrow”. Hague repeats a few days ago that it’s importnat to keep to promises made and ‘we said quite clearly we would reject the third runway’. The only one who comes out of this well is Boris Johnson when he rudely rebukes Cameron with his ‘madness to expand further an airport in central London’, but that’s not because he cares about the environment, but because his dream of a fantasy Boris Island is fast fading.
Can you believe a word they now say about anything? They’re now promising to limit the planes taking off from any new runway. But that’s exactly what they did, repeatedly, at the building of terminal 5. The ceiling successively set at ever higher take-off levels was broken three times over 5 years as commercial interests demanded, which Transport Ministers each time tamely conceded.
They also claim that the U-turn is justified and necessary because ‘Britain is missing out on £14bn potential trade’ . What they don’t say is that air travel is a major negative in balance of payments terms since money spent buying foreign travel far exceeds the total of inward trade attracted. Not does it hold water to suggest that building a huge extension to Heathrow (or a new airport in the Thames Estuary) will release the growth that is urgently needed immediately since the third runway won’t be completed till 2023 (and a putative Boris Island probably not till 2028).