Runway economics or plane stupid?

by Claudia Carter

How much airport expansion is good for society? (Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Runway,_Heathrow_airport.jpg?uselang=en-gb)

How much air traffic expansion is good for society? (Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: The_Runway,_Heathrow_airport.jpg?uselang=en-gb)

 

Development debates often tend to juxtapose environmental concerns with the need for economic growth and job creation. The decision by Parliament today to support the expansion of Heathrow Airport with a third runway, is a good case in point.  An expansion, no doubt, will create more jobs in construction and transport industry, and is likely to result in all sorts of knock-on retail and service-related economic benefits (also a very good job and research opportunities for our building surveying, quantity surveying and engineering students).  There is also of course a long list of environmental and social impacts that are rather unattractive, such as a significant increase in air pollution (from airplanes and increases in associated road traffic) and noise pollution and vibration for those living near the airport, as many prominent politicians and (environmental and resident) lobby groups have highlighted.

Who wins? Who loses? We may be able to quickly identify obvious winners – such as construction firms; air travel companies and supply chain; business and private air travellers – and losers, for example those experiencing the noise and vibration; tax payers who prefer green investment; further deterioration of land, water and air-encompassing ecosystems.  What is rarely talked about in such balance sheets, however, are the indirect but heavy prices paid by society overall.  [Read more…]


A Nation of Couch Potatoes?

by Antony Taft

How far do you walk each week?  If there is one thing that most health professionals agree upon it is that our state of health is greatly enhanced if we each have a brisk walk each day.  It seems logical to surmise that if this simple direction was followed, NHS costs might be significantly reduced.

Quote Blog 14Perhaps surprisingly, built environment professionals can have a significant effect on peoples’ physical activity and this is well recognised in the USA where there is a trend towards “active design” agreed between health authorities and architects.  This might mean, for instance, locating stair cases near the main entrance instead of hiding them at the rear of the lifts.  This principle can be applied beyond buildings to the external environment.  The trend towards pedestrianisation over the last few decades has undoubtedly helped, although increasing walking is a positive spin-off rather than a planned benefit.  However, in the Country as a whole the National Travel Survey 2012 states that walking trips fell by 27% since 1997.  Conversely, the number of households with two or more cars has risen to 31% from only 17% in 1986 – this in the midst of a recession.

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