Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Pressure group opposes Stansted Airport passenger increase

The Stop Stansted Expansion campaign are vociferously opposing BAA’s plans to increase the number of permitted air traffic movements at Stansted from 241,000 to 264,000 a year and thus increase their maximum passenger handling ability by an additional ten million passengers per year.

A spokesperson for the group told the BBC: "If Stansted were permitted to expand to maximum use of the existing runway, the local environment would suffer, the national economy would suffer and we would have taken a giant step backwards in the battle to combat climate change."

They added that the expansion would not help the economy because it was encouraging people to go on holiday abroad - Rather stretching it there perhaps, certainly if would pour millions of pounds extra into the airport and presumably, local jobs and the wider local economy. Anthropomorphic Global Warming is a new weapon in their armoury.

The villages surrounding the airport are, it must be said, very picturesque, with many thatched cottages. There is a direct motorway link to the airport so little need for airport traffic to pass through them.

I suspect the fact of the matter is that very few of these people could possibly have been resident in the area before Stansted became one of London’s airports. The writing was on the wall in 1970 and by 78 there was a white paper laying things out very clearly and the latter was the best part of 30 years ago. No one who moved there after 1978 could have been in any reasonable doubt of the situation.

No. The protestors are more in the position of someone who buys, or builds, a house next door to a busy public house - and then complains bitterly about the noise and customers.

When is organic food not organic? When it's not Green.

The UK Soil Association may be about to take the dangerous step of giving up any real claim to the authority to be the arbiter of weather food is actually organic.

It looks as if the organisation, which campaigns for organic food and certifies which foods are organic, is straying off it’s own turf and being politicised. Apparently, due to growing demands (who’s exactly, in this context) to cut the environmental impact of food distribution, the organisation is now considering five options to reduce the carbon footprint of food.

It is releasing a consultation document next week that will outline a series of options, including a demand to partially, or fully, strip food imported into the UK by air of it’s organic status and much more detailed labelling showing a product's country of origin plus the air miles it has travelled and carbon offsetting schemes.

They do concede that some of the proposals might harm developing countries, with poor infrastructure, who have to use air transport to get their goods to market and say any decision would have to take into account the impact on farmers in the developing world.

In other words they might for instance end up torpedoing the ‘Free Trade’ products.

I wonder if they have taken into account EU Law and the restraint of trade some of these ideas might involve on organic producers in other EC States.

What amazes me is that they are, apparently without batting an eye, willing to effectively re-write the actual (widely understood) definition of what actually constitutes organic food!

In other words it will no longer be good enough for food to just actually really be organic. No now it must be ’green', as well as organic. The goalposts moved so fast there that you could be forgiven for not noticing them actually shift.

What next? Ban food produced under ‘glass’? Maybe they ought to ban all pulses ;-) because of the resultant greenhouse gasses (methane) they contribute when they are consumed…

You are Here - A political compass

Another oldie, but interesting.

The political compass. I am not 100% sure it is quite accurate, as it forces choices where you might want to give more qualified responses and I am not all that sure about what they see as left, or right, in all instances, but it is simultaneously both a bit of fun and thought provoking.

The state of the UK parties is a little out of date. If you look at the UK parties for 2006 it puts the Greens (as of 2005) on the libertarian left whilst recent experience might place them much more on the authoritarian left.

Nu-Lab are clearly be much more authoritarian than the Conservatives and it tracks this, thought they seem to have drifted even further since the graph was done. Arguably they are both very close on the Left/Right axis, closer than shown.

The Liberals are probably much further left than shown and possibly less libertarian. I would have put them just over the mid point.