Environmental news in the UK is dominated by Heathrow this week. The government were due to announce their decision on a third runway any day now. It’s a bit of a conundrum for them – it’s obvious that expanding Heathrow very literally flies in the face of their climate change goals. They must know they shouldn’t do it if they take climate change even the slightest bit seriously. At the same time, this is a perfect large scale job-creating construction project that governments love to announce in times of recession. Besides, as well as angering the aviation lobbyists and the Keynesians, backing down now will hand victory to the Conservative party, who have opposed the runway.
It’s going to be embarrassing either way, so from the latest reports, it appears the government have taken a leaf from the big book of air travel and announced a delay.
Anyway, while they stall and avoid the issue, it’s given campaigners the time to implement a particularly devious tactic: on the proposed runway site. The land is in the village of Sipson, which is due to be demolished if the runway is approved. By buying the land, Greenpeace guarantee themselves a seat at the table at the planning enquiry. For the runway to proceed they would need to agree to sell the land, which they will obviously resist.
You can only put a maximum four official owners on the deeds to a piece of land, and the four here are Alastair McGowan, Emma Thompson, Za Goldsmith and Greenpeace UK. You can however, add as many ‘beneficial owners’ as you like. The names all go on the deeds, and their views must be represented in any legal fight for the land. Beneficial owners so far include three MPs, a host of campaigners, and myself. It can include you too if you scoot over and. So far there are over 5,000 people due to be listed on the deeds, creating a huge legal headache for anyone wishing to build an airport.
Clever idea, but hopefully it will prove totally unnecessary when the government reject plans for the third runway.