Fuelling the debate on Heathrow
I READ with increasing disbelief the letter from W. Pierce under the heading “When Heathrow had six runways” (Gazette (16/11). It contains so many errors and misconceptions that it cannot possibly be allowed to stand unchallenged. Consider the following undeniable facts:
a) He claims that the airport came into being in the 1930s. It did not, construction of the present-day airport began in May 1944.
b) He claims that the airport once had six runways. This is pure fantasy.
c) He claims that before the airport the villages around the airport hardly existed and that 80% of the present buildings in the villages have been built since the opening of the airport. This is complete nonsense as in fact all of the Heathrow villages had existed for many hundreds of years before the airport. In the 1940s they each had a church, school, pubs, shops and the other infrastructure that makes up a thriving community.
d) He seems to believe that aviation fuel (kerosene) is “cleaner” than the petrol and diesel used by road traffic. In fact all three are hydrocarbons and at least 95% the emissions from traffic and aircraft consist of carbon dioxide and water.
e) The oxidation of fuels within an internal combustion engine is not 100% efficient and small amounts of the hydrocarbons are converted to toxic compounds which are harmful to health. Engine emissions contain nitrogen oxide – nitrogen dioxide is highly toxic and the area around Heathrow exceeds the legal limits imposed to protect human health.
f) Expansion of Heathrow would only make a bad situation with regard to carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions worse and this is the reason why the government is being challenged in the High Court. It is not a bandwagon as W. Pierce suggests – it is he who is misguided and who does not understand the situation PHILIP SHERWOOD Victoria Lane Harlington