My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
My quote of the day is from Neil Bentley, the deputy director general of the CBI. He said in December "Environmental regulation doesn't have to be a burden for business. Framed correctly, environmental goals can help our economic goals - help start new companies and generate new jobs and enrich us all." Hear, hear!
But I also note that 70 business leaders have signed a letter to call on the Government to support Heathrow, promote competition and find a solution to this country’s aviation crisis. Shame they failed to acknowledge the environmental consequences of aviation. It is only when social, environmental and economic are considered that we can ever be truly live up to the sustainable development dream. Let's get all the issues on the table and have the grown-up debate.
On a more positive note, Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle MP was out on the Hoo Peninsula yesterday in Grain to see for herself the issues and hear about the anti-Estuary Airport campaign. RSPB colleagues welcomed the chance to brief her on the risks and dangers a Thames Estuary airport brings.
She was clearly listening. This is what she said...
“I am very clear that the right way to plan for the future our aviation industry is to focus on how best to deliver additional capacity at our existing airports, particularly how we could better utilise existing runways.
“The idea of building a new airport from scratch... is a huge distraction. It is causing unnecessary local concern in Medway and on the Isle of Grain in particular. The overwhelming majority of the industry is clear that, were it to go ahead, it would inevitably lead to the eventual closure of Heathrow with a disastrous impact on the West London economy.
“It was very important to see for myself why those in Medway feel so strongly that a Thames Estuary airport is a complete non-starter. The impact on a natural habitat that is home to thousands of migrating birds would be enormous. Added to the site’s proximity to a major LNG terminal, a sunken wreck laden with high explosives and the London Array wind farm, it is clear to anyone who bothered to visit that there are simply too many issues that would have to be overcome.
“I am repeating again my call to the Transport Secretary to agree to serious cross-party talks on the future of Britain’s aviation industry. Those talks should focus on how to provide additional capacity at Britain’s existing airports in a way that best protects the local environment and reduces the industry’s contribution to climate change through tougher targets to cut emissions.”
These seem like decent terms for a grown up debate.
Do you agree?
It would be great to hear your views.
redkite,you have my sympathy and while I think that what will happen is the third runway because that is what the top people probably want,would have thought one of the R A F airfields like I think Lyneham that is being closed would be better than Thames as both would presumably need other services taking to them.
I agree with the comments above. although living not that far from Heathrow I do think a third runway there is the least worst airport option and would ditch "mad brain" schemes like the Thames Estuary nightmare and hopefully Lydd airport.
Thank you George for the extra detail and Sooty for your observation. The rise in enthusiasm for Heathrow will be an interesting test of Government's commitment to ruling our a third runway at Heathrow. We'll see, very soon, how they react to this sort of pressure.
Well of course could be totally wrong but think this Thames Estuary Airport is all a bluff so that when planning for Extra runway at Heath Row it seems everyone would think that a better option.Although I think it all unnecessary I think that business is determined to have extra capacity and it does seem that business people find it easier to get to other countries and we miss out so something is probably needed as for sure we must get all the business we can.
In 2003 government concluded in its conclusions to the then proposals to build an airport at Cliffe that the site was 12 times more likely to suffer bird strike than any other Major airport in the UK.
Since that time the the UK Birdstrike committee has reported that the incidence of Bird strike has increased drastically. Furthermore any new civil public aerodrome in the UK would need to satisfy the safety requirements based on the Chicago Convention to which the UK is a founding member.In the time scale that any major Thames Estuary airport would involve, the requirements of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) would also apply. Coastal and Estuarine airports must meet exactly the same safety standards as inland airports. It is for the developer to present a detailed safety case. The issue of a licence or EASA certificate would depend on the satisfactory mitigation of identified hazards including the particular special hazards the Thames Estuary migratory route presents.
EASA concluded recently in a report by the Food & Environment Research Agency that ....
the volume of air traffic (number of flights) has been increasing year-on-year over the last few decades of the 20th Century and the early years of the 21st Century, as have the numbers and physical size of various species of bird involved in aircraft bird strikes. These factors have led to the perception, by EASA, that the risk of a significant bird strike to an aircraft airframe or windshield may be increasing.
96% of all reported bird strikes occur during take off and landing, current birdstrike regulation is based on historic data i.e. are based on reaction to strikes. The majority of data collected globally has been from inland aerodromes where bird populations and reported strikes are recorded between July and October (Summer !)
The Thames Estuary is an internationally recognised wetland whose bird populations increase dramatically during the winter, some 350,000 extra birds all Wildfowl that flock by nature and are over 2lb in weight.
It doesn't stretch the imagination too far to conclude that The Thames Estuary may be the wrong place to consider as a site for a Hub airport.