I was walking across Parliament Square with a French journalist. Our conversation was almost drowned out – by an aircraft. She looked up and said, “Why do you allow planes to fly over the centre of the city? Isn’t it dangerous?” Well, yes, perhaps; I said, but that is the least of the problems. It is also very noisy and polluting.
That is why ambitious economies across the world are building new runways – without exception – away from the centres of habitation. So it is incredible that we might be on the verge of taking a shameful and above all short-termist decision about where to put a new runway in the South East.
I have no idea what the Government will decide in the next few weeks. But the pressure is obviously very great: to pick yet again the tired, failed solution that has been proposed and rejected for decades. Virtually every day we hear from business leaders and MPs who demand that we implement what they take to be the conclusion of the Davies report, and go for a third runway at Heathrow.