Ingenious Block to Third Runway

Article excerpt

THE environmental group Greenpeace has adopted an ingenious approach to blocking a third runway at Heathrow. They have purchased land about the size of a football pitch in the village of Sipton an area that would be required in the construction of the runway and have parcelled it out into smallholdings with owners as diverse as Inuit Indians and London MPs. It is not an insuperable obstacle to the building of a third runway but serving compulsory purchase orders on this ragbag of holders would undeniably be a headache for BAA, the owners of Heathrow, which they could do without, and a corresponding gift to the lawyers.

On the more serious, political front, there are growing signs that the approval of a third runway, to which the Prime Minister appears to be committed is running into difficulties at Westminster. It was understood that the announcement would be made this week; now it may be deferred for longer. Gordon Brown has intimated to Labour opponents of the runway, particularly London MPs, that he will have a further meeting with them before any announcement is made. But no amount of meetings can hide the fundamental disagreement about Heathrow within the party between those, like the Prime Minister, who see it in terms of job creation and a valuable stimulus to economic growth, and members of his own cabinet who would find it difficult to promote the party's green credentials if such a significant expansion in aviation were approved. …