In the FT today, James Skinner, chairman emeritus of the New Economics Foundation, asks fundamentally important questions about a stance often adopted by politicians with an interest in supporting multinational business.
He was prompted to do so by a recent FT editorial “A better plan for London airports”, which cited the fact that Schiphol offers more flights to China than Heathrow as an example of “Britain falling behind in the global race”. He asks:
- But what exactly is this “global race”?
- Where is the finishing line?
- What is the prize we are competing for?
- Are we really so desperately anxious that more and more people should come to London to change aeroplanes?
- What do we get in exchange for the noise and air pollution from increasing air traffic?
- What compensation is there for further loss of land to the hideous sprawl of airports?
- Are we sure that extrapolations of growth in air travel are realistic anyway, given that oil prices will rise and alternative fuels are not yet in sight?
He concludes that there are many more beneficial ways to invest the vast sums needed to build a mega-airport.