‘Boris Island’ is set to go ahead after the Prime Minister gave the go-ahead on a new London airport. So called because it was Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, who put forward the plans.A LibDem intervention delayed the original announcement, because their official policy opposes expansion of the airports in the country, based on environmental grounds.
In his official blog, Boris Johnson said that the country’s demand for travel was due to double over the next 20 years. In order to fly 460 million people every year, there would need to be a new strategy.
The Government has been focussing on promoting high-speed rail as an alternative to short-haul flights. Such a tactic works within the UK, or to Europe, but it is not plausible for trains to replace planes on journeys to America or China. It is suggested that even if the high-speed rail networks are completed, then no more than 10% of Heathrow’s traffic would be eliminated.
In order to prevent further contributions to global warming, the aviation industry needs to find ways of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, air travel is judged to cause 2.5% of the UK’s emissions, and to stay within the Government’s limits more green technology and techniques must be developed, such as ‘Prius’ planes and reduced taxiing.
Heathrow is the UK’s busiest airport, but it is already running almost entirely to capacity, with the result that 40% of flights get delayed, which is a much higher percentage than is found at other major European airports (Frankfurt, Paris or Amsterdam). This is in spite of the recent opening of Terminal 5. More runway space is needed to help alleviate the increased travel levels.