Heathrow Expansion–To expand or not to expand–that is the question!

Living right next to Heathrow in Ashford Middlesex, there are plenty of direct advantages to living close to an airport, but the indirect advantages will far outweigh the direct ones. 


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In this blog I am going to set out my opinion on the matter…  

Noise Pollution

Ashford is far enough from the runways to not be directly affected by the noise and is one of the reasons I chose the town to live in, having lived previously in Kew near Richmond which is directly on one of the flight paths.  Plane noise in Kew was far louder than Ashford due to the fact that the planes are coming in to land at that point.  So in summer months when windows are open, you can hear the plane’s engines in your dwelling.  During that period while Concorde flew the noise from it’s engines were really loud and while this passed my flat I would be unable to hear the TV until it had passed.  This took around 3 seconds from starting to hear it at a loud level, till it had passed and the level dropped enough to be able to hear the TV once again.  It happen twice a day (once during the day and once at night) but not every day – depends on the chosen flight path into Heathrow, I believe is either over Windsor/Slough or via London (Kew, Isleworth) approach.

Then they decommissioned Concorde, this overtly loud plane, was the only real source of annoyance.  The other planes, just fade into the background noise and after only a very short time of living there, I just didn’t notice it.  If you ask anyone who lives next to a railway line, if noise becomes an issue, and most replies would be that after a short while, “you get used to it”.

Air Pollution

Heathrow airport was built in the 1950’s after the 2nd World War and most of the towns that have expanded to the extent that they have, have done so due to the close vicinity of Heathrow airport.  Aeroplanes produce air pollution, there is no doubt that is the case, although the industry is working to reduce this in more efficient plane and engine design, if you live close to an airport, the air will be more polluted than an area that is not close to an airport.  BUT! Planes do not dump fuel before they come in to land unless in a true emergency where the pilot believes he may have to crash the plane and so will dump the fuel (which is very expensive) and so lighten the plane.  Check out http://www.berlin-airport.de/en/company/environment/air/kerosene-dumping/  or any other Google query on “Heathrow fuel dumping”.  Adding another runway will add a little to the polluted air in car/cargo traffic and plane activity, but this should not be a good reason to protest against the expansion of Heathrow.  If you are of the viewpoint that we should not expand anywhere, then, in my opinion, you should just go and live in the woods, if you buy your food from supermarkets, your clothes from shops, live in a house with electricity and/or gas, and you pay for this yourself, then believing that the UK should not expand it’s infrastructure to compete with the world, then it shows that you have no concept of the world that we live in.

Capitalist Rules

Whether you have decided the way that we live is right or wrong, “WE” decided it in voting terms.  That may not be right – politicians set out a set of planned policies in a manifesto before their party gets voted in and they then may make decisions once they are elected that may contravene those policies, be “WE” have the choice to vote them out 4 years later.    Most people do not read the manifesto, instead vote the way their family have always voted.  Most people vote the way The Sun newspaper tells them to vote in their “loony lefty council” headlines or in 1997 they switched to “Tory Toff loony scandal” headlines where everyone then voted Labour.  In fact most people don’t even vote! The fact is that we live in a society which is surrounded by large PLC corporations driven by continued growth.

Continued growth! What is that? What has that got to do with Heathrow airport?  Once a company goes from being privately owned, to publicly owned it has to be seen to make more profit this year than it did the year before.  Why?  Because if it doesn’t make more than it did the year before, then the owners of the company, the people owning the shares, will sell them and go and put their money into another company, one that is making continued growth.

Who are these people? Who are fickle and do not show loyalty to a company?  They are US!  We are the ones who have pensions, mortgages, investments.  “But I only have a mortgage!! I don’t buy shares!”  – you may say – or “I only rent”  – the company you work for may have borrowed, or invested, everyone is involved.

The whole system is intrinsically linked. 

The whole banking system works on the market place of shares.  They take your money and invest it in companies that make more profit each year, that profit allows them to lend it back to you at a rate higher then what they make, which makes the bank a profit.  Nobody does anything for free! If they do – then the profit the bank makes will be less than the year before and so their share price value will drop.

What has this got to do with Heathrow Airport expansion?  Every company that we buy products from, has to buy or make the product and either bring it in to the country, ship it to their shop or shops, unbox it and put it on the shelf, or send it to you via a courier or postal service. 

Heathrow plays a huge part of importing product from all of the world – companies use it to ship those products.

The Human side

Due to inequalities in the world, there are people in other countries who will work for much less than people in the UK will work for.  It’s a fact of life and has always been that way.  We cannot change that fact.  There has been a lot of focus in the press, lately, over the amount of benefit people receive and the current government have worked hard at making people go back to work.  The fact is, virtually everyone lives more comfortably here in the UK than in some countries, where there is no running water, electricity or heating.  Only our homeless live like that.  Throughout history, mankind has exploited these under-developed countries for their workforce.  We used to call it slavery, though conditions have no doubt improved for most people working in the world to produce product for the western consumer, to the point where the “slavery” term is not used for someone working 12 hours a day for £2.

The fact is that the amount of people in the world has shot up in the last 20 years including the UK, and so there is a greater demand for product.  For a company there are 2 main choices in selling to the market.  Sell it cheap and sell lots of them, or choose to sell higher quality at a higher price.  Both have their own risks.  To sell cheap means you need to buy cheap in the first place.  The only way to drive the price of a product down, is to buy a lot of it. Or buy it from a place where wages are low enough to keep the price low. So supermarkets, buy product in large quantities and sell each one for a small margin.  They have huge floor space, and so stock large amounts of products.  This has proven to work and this business model was followed by the clothes industry (TK Max, Primark) and even car industries (with car supermarkets). 

These products are usually made in countries where the cost of living is low enough, for the product to be made at a low enough price in order for the company buying the product to sell it at a low price.  If you buy 5x pairs of socks from a supermarket for £1 – you should not complain that Heathrow is to be expanded.  To supply you the pack of 5x socks for only £1, the cost of producing them, and shipping them to the store has to be kept as low as possible.

If they are delivered instead to Frankfurt, and then another flight from Frankfurt to Heathrow – the cost of supplying those socks will rise as well as Frankfurt benefitting from the extra jobs, extra business.

If that flight had gone directly to Heathrow – We, local to Heathrow benefit and so does the nation.

The Advantages of Heathrow Expansion

There are 2 ways to look at it – local advantages and national advantages. 

Locally

It will create more jobs, not just directly working in the airport, but for every local business.  More workers at the airport, means more needs for food, clothing and everything else.  If you live locally, whatever job you do, the company will no doubt benefit from having a higher number of people to sell to.

House prices will actually rise due to a higher demand to live close to work.

Nationally

The need for expansion will make Heathrow Airport a major hub for Europe, this will mean more people coming to the UK for business or holiday – some of them will stay and spend their money. 

Business

For the businesses importing product, it will make transport cheaper for cargo.  The more flights there are, the cheaper it will be to ship or at least keep it at the current price.  This allows the business to make more profit, helps with continued growth as well as cheaper products for the consumer (“you and I”).

 

The Alternatives

For those contemplating alternatives to airport expansion

a) They don’t want any expansion – just does not make sense – as other airports around Europe expand – the business of shipping goods will go there.  If we don’t expand – we lose that business.

b) They want it at another airport in the UK (Luton, Stanstead, Gatwick) – This will benefit people living in those areas instead of those living around Heathrow – their house prices will rise, they will have more jobs, their local businesses will benefit.

c) They want to build another airport on the Thames Estuary – What a waste of money, we have 90% of what we want already at Heathrow, building another runway and terminals is much cheaper than a whole new airport.  Also for the reasons mentioned above, the people living around the new airport will reap the benefits.  What would happen to Heathrow?  It would, no doubt,  turn into a barren wasteland for years while planning and development was fought over.  Jobs would disappear from the area as companies would move to the new airport, Heathrow workers would either have to commute to Essex or move there.  Selling your house, in an area where there once was an airport and now there isn’t would be a challenge for anyone, and selling it at a price that enabled you to buy one in a new area where a new airport has just been built just does not make sense.  Everyone in the Heathrow area would lose out.

The Downsides, negatives of Heathrow expansion

There would be disruption to those living in the location of the chosen runway.  They would have to move house.  If they are paid a fair price, that would allow them to buy another in a favourable location, I really don’t see the problem.  Sure people don’t like change, but losing the small villages like Sipson or parts of Stanwell (especially the Moor) seems a smaller price to inconvenience some people, than affect everyone else. 

There are far more people who would lose out to no expansion (the whole country).  There are far more people who would lose out if Heathrow didn’t get expanded, than those few affected by having to move.

If it does go ahead, there may be some more pollution in the local area – as long as expansion goes ahead somewhere, then the pollution will still happen.  So to argue that you don’t want it on your door step, but happy it goes somewhere else is not really a good argument for the environment.

Change the World

So due to the fact that we live in this world, driven by the price and profit margin, in order for our companies to show continued growth, and therefore keep our stock market buoyant, allow our banks to prosper (they all took a beating in the last few years for trying to make too much profit), which in turn keeps our interest rates on borrowing (ie your mortgage) low, we have to give them the best advantages in transport.

We cannot change the world! We cannot reverse this system that we live in.  Accept it and work with it.

What has that got to do with Solid State Disks?

We are one of those companies who are located near Heathrow – and so we see the benefits!