Paul Outhwaite is the Public Affairs Manager for the RSPB South East, and much of his current work is focused on the issues which surround the Thames Estuary.There we were, all ready to engage in a full scale consultation on the future of aviation when Mr Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle created a rather different political landscape. Gone was Justine Greening, who had all along been opposed to the idea of expanding Heathrow and who was on the point of announcing some form of public consultation on aviation expansion. In her place was one Patrick McLoughlin, a man whose last official comment on aviation was in 1991 when, as a junior minister in the Department for Transport, he indicated that it was “desirable to have regional airport growth”.Initial rumours were that Greening’s departure would see the Government dropping their pledge not to expand at Heathrow. They may, of course, still do just that but what emerged from the new Secretary of State for Transport was a decision not to make a decision, effectively until after the next election: he announced an independent commission Anti-Heathrow advocates such as Boris Johnson reacted angrily at what they saw as a fudge (“fudgerama” – to quote the Mayor of London). The RSPB believes that it offers the chance to move away from the hyperbole and rhetoric surrounding the sometimes fanciful schemes for estuary airports and really examine the evidence objectively. Since March, the whole process has felt like a phoney war. Lines were being drawn up, positions established and propaganda thrown around like the proverbial confetti but not much actually happening. While there was still a chance of a public consultation, it looked like the phoney war was at last coming to an end. Now, with the Government’s independent commission, it feels a bit like a football has been tossed into no-man’s land in the hope of calling a temporary truce. We shall see.One final thought: the Mayor of London’s popularity apparently soared because of his part in the amazing success of the Olympics and Paralympics. As a result, William Hill dramatically cut their odds on the likelihood of “Boris Island” being built. It would be a massive shame if the legacy of such an inspirational display of human endeavour, courage, strength and skill was to include the construction of an airport that would be one of the most environmentally damaging acts that we have ever perpetrated in the UK.