UK Conservatives Divided Over Third Runway Opposition, Again

Peter Hellberg/CC BY-SA 2.0

When Greenpeace activists built a fortress to block Heathrow's third runway, I confess that part of me thought it was a lost cause. After all, money talks—and the resources of the environmental community and local residents seemed dwarfed by the financial might of the aviation industry.

But this was no ordinary battle. The usually corporate-friendly Conservative party had already voiced opposition, and London's Conservative mayor Boris Johnson had even pledged funds to the fight.

So when Prime Minister David Cameron shut the third runway down "for good", it felt like a small but important sign that the tide might finally be turning against growth-at-all-costs economics. (Remember, this wasn't long after Newt Gingrich sat with Nancy Pelosi to urge action on climate change.)

Could it be possible we had finally experienced a bipartisan paradigm shift on environmental issues? Could it bollocks, as they say back home in England. As if we needed any more evidence of our own naivety, the Daily Telegraph reports that former Conservative Environment Minister Tim Yeo (who publicly backed the original decision to scrap the runway) is urging Cameron to rethink his decision:

The Prime Minister must ask himself whether he is man or mouse,” he writes. “Does he want to be another Harold Macmillan, presiding over a dignified slide towards insignificance? Or is there somewhere inside his heart — an organ that still remains impenetrable to most Britons — a trace of Thatcher, determined to reverse the direction of our ship?

An immediate go-ahead for a third runway will symbolise the start of a new era, the moment the Cameron government found its sense of mission. Let’s go for it.”

It seems Drill, Baby, Drill and Build, Baby, Build is not just a rallying cry for Conservatives in America. In Britain too, there are signs of a slow and steady shift toward climate skepticism, and a pursuit of raw capitalism and unadulterated growth as a path out of this mess.

It's just inconvenient for these folks that voters would like to see fresh thinking when it comes to climate.

Tags: Activism | Airlines | Air Travel | Global Climate Change | London | United Kingdom

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