Friday, 28 October 2011

Boris Island A Penal Settlement For Taxpayers

Around the South East numbers of high maintenance executives, public and private sector, together with a large array of consultants, financial experts and all the others will be spending quality time (and our money) talking about Boris Island. The cry is that because this is “infrastructure” it has to be good no matter how much it costs.

This is not to be a penal settlement for people who cycle on pavements, more the pity, it is a plan for a vast new hub airport for the south east on an island in the Thames Estuary created out of the surplus of mud and garbage there. It is the brain child (or storm) of the Mayor of London.

At precisely the same time a bitter debate is going on about allowing Manston Airport, 25 miles away, with a long runway and facilities, 8 night flights. Also, in that general area there has been debate about the improvements to Southend Airport, about 15 miles away. Biggin Hill has given up trying to attract airlines because of local issues and will stick to executive and other air traffic.

In the farm shop we go to we adjourned to the fields where lettuce is being grown to decide which to have and they were duly pulled. Most of the other produce had been pulled earlier that morning. There was a discussion on the local chicken farms.

The reason why we have to go the farm is that the former infrastructure for taking such produce to the local towns has been wiped out by the supermarkets and their operations. With it has gone the flexibility, the responsiveness to local needs and also the outlets for the local farmers.

So at the supermarkets we can buy chickens from Thailand, lettuce from Spain or Africa, other produce from anywhere in the globe you can think of, but not anything from a farm just down the road. Nor can we check its provenance or try to calculate just how fresh it is. They have ways of calling it fresh.

These wonders have been delivered to us by the vast amounts spent on what is called “infrastructure” which by air and road allow networks of trucks working out of a limited number of national depots to cart the stuff about. The reason it costs so little is that the virtual slave labour out there coupled with huge taxpayer subsidies enable this to happen.

The UK at present is littered with runways all over the place of one sort or another. The reasons why we need “hubs” is because the potential for linking a variety of locations has never been explored properly. Worse still, the existing rail links are not made use of and there are no plans for other rail links.

Could someone somewhere in the vastness of Whitehall sit down and try to look at just what the possibilities might be and the advantages of having a large number of runways with a flexible network of links are? Given the amount of time people have to spend both travelling to and from and at major hubs it might even be quicker.

Boris Island has all the makings of a huge prestige project financial disaster if it were to happen. It is still a disaster if it were not to happen because of all the time and effort wasted on a dubious project which could have been better directed.

Last week a snail emerged from a cabbage so we took out into the garden. I asked the farmer if it had arrived home yet. He said not, but would keep a look out for it.

1 comment:

  1. I agree wholeheartedly about the collapse of the food distribution network. We are fortunate enough to have a decent (if pricey) farm shop nearby; a mile further down the road is a supermarket offering cheaper veg imported from abroad.

    I sometimes wonder at the way it seems to be a 'given' that the UK wants more air traffic; the only element up for dicussion seems to be where we put it.

    There's even the suggestion that we should be aiming to act as a hub for travel into all of northern Europe - given that the vast majority of these hypothetical travellers would never set foot outside the airport on their journeys, I can't see the benefit this would incur, apart from an increase in fees to the airport which would be offset by the costs involved.

    Is it all part of the 'Growth is Always Good' mantra that underpins economic activity in the face of all reason? And if so, how far will it be allowed to go?