Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Heathrow’

Mike Tuffrey and London’s Shite Air Quality

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 19th January, 2012

During his 10 years on the London Assembly, LibDem Mike Tuffrey has made environmental issues one of his top priorities. And although he is standing down in May, he is still a man on a mission, all guns metaphorically firing, on the matter of London’s poor air quality. As he told a meeting of Merton Liberal Democrats at a policy fourm in Morden this evening, though we may not be able to see the pollution in the capital’s air these days — unlike the ghastly ‘pea-soupers’ of the 1950s — in Central London in particular the amount of harmful particulates and NO2 is often alarming. The European Union, to its credit, has set standards for air quality, to which all member stats are meant to adhere. In fact, these are only half as strict as World Health Organisation guidelines, and yet as the Mayor, Boris Johnson, admits in some respects London still falls short of what is desirable. The main victims of this are the elderly and children, as well as asthma sufferers, of course. The latter can tell when there is a particularly bad day even if the pollution monitors which boroughs are meant to instal and maintain are not functioning. Roads, or rather the traffic they carry, are the main polluters and despite all the publicity about the supposed environmental advantages of diesel fuel, diesel fumes are particularly noxious, Mike says. While some of us might hope that London could follow the example of continental cities such as Berlin and Copenhagen and make a concerted effort to turn our city more bicycle-friendly, great effort also needs to be put in to encourage the shift towards electric vehicles, especially light goods vehicles. Mike also pointed out that Heathrow is the one serious blackspot outside the centre of London, not just because of the aircraft but also because of all the vehicles that transfer the passengers to and from the airport. Tougher standards on what sort of vehicles can enter the airport would certainly help, but it is unlikely BAA would agree to such a measure. In the meantime, though, Mike stressed that although environmental issues rank relatively low in the priorities of a majority of London’s voters, health is a major concern. And poor air quality is even more of a health mattter than it is an environmental concern.


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Say No to Heathrow 3!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 17th March, 2009

jf-heathrow-1Five of London’s LibDem MPs and most of us on the party’s list of Euro-candidates for the capital were out in the spring sunshine in Hounslow on Sunday morning, standing right under the flight path of incoming aircraft, opposite the Green Man pub — a charming old hostelry with a nice garden, were it not for the horrendous racket of the huge aircraft roaring alarmingly close above our heads. But that was the point: to get some great photographic shots to underline the LibDem campaign against a third runway at Heathrow, which is being spearheaded by Richmond Park MP, Susan Kramer. How much worse it will be people in London if yet more flights are facilitated, adding to noise and air pollution (including from the extra cars that will be generated).

Ed Davey, MP for Kingston and Surbiton, and a member of Susan’s staff spent more than an hour on their backs on a rug, cameras in their hands, to make sure we got a good portfolio of pics. Two police cars and a fire engine turned up at one stage, but this seemed to be a matter of coincidence rather than nefarious design. Simon Hughes MP (Southwark and North Bermondsey), ever the professional campaigner, went straight over and started engaging with the men in uniform.

The European angle to the story is that the Euopean Commission has already expressed concern about air quality levels around Heathrow and could put more pressure on the Labour government on environmental grounds, to try to reverse the decision to go ahead with a third runway. My main argument on the matter has always been that short-haul flights to European cities such as London, Paris and even Amsterdam are not jut unnecessary but unjustifiable. But the fares on Eurostar and other high speed rail links need to be rejigged so that they are truly competitive, even when people have to travel at quite short notice.

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Bangkok Back in Business

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 10th December, 2008

When I landed at Bangkok airport last night, I discovered everything was back to normal. No-one who was uninformed could have guessed that only last week, the place was being occupied by thousands of protestors and that there had even been violent confrontations. Everything is functioning smoothly, it’s all spotlessly clean and hordes of tourists are pouring off planes again. Would Heathrow be able to pick itself up and dust itself down so quickly if it had been occupied by thousands of people for a week? I doubt it.

It’s nearly 40 years since I was last in the Thai capital — five sprells of R and R during my time as a journalist in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos — so I have much to (re-)discover. For the moment, I am just gobsmacked by all the huge shopping malls and the modernity of the place. Watch this space!

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