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London’s infrastructure scam continues

June 29, 2015

Gareth Shanks, the YDM secretary, looks at London’s continuing airport fiasco.

London has always loved to take a much larger slice of the pie when it came to infrastructure spending, but the debate surrounding her future air links really takes the biscuit.

On one hand, the answer is expansion of the current airports in London, which will involve destroying large spans of housing and industrial estates – ensuring that any attempt to go forward with these plans will be met with stern resistance by campaigners.

While on the other hand, building a brand new airport in the Thames Estuary had initial building costs that were just shy of an eye watering £50 billion pounds: judging by how government budgets work, we can expect that figure to easily shoot up.

In 2004, when London was bidding for the Olympic Games, the original budget for the Olympic Stadium was 282 million. It ended at 547 million, almost double.

The Airports Commission recently declared it was against building a new airport, but there are still key influential members of both the National and London government who see it as a positive step forward.

Either way, London is set to take another huge sum of money to invest in its self while the rest of the country suffers from ever aging infrastructure. It is of no great shock that only recently a £38.5 billion five year plan to improve the North’s train links, focusing on the trans-Pennine & the electrification of the Sheffield to London line, was shelved due to “rising costs”.

Sadly, of course, it doesn’t end there, in the run up to the General Election, George Osborne promised to support the One North plan should the country return a Conservative Government: the 15 year plan aims to spend £15 billion pounds on improving rail links between Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

He’s now gone silent.

The question that doesn’t seem to pop into the heads of the Westminster bureaucrats seems pretty clear to me, why does any new airport expansion have to be in London?

Obviously the London centric government we have in power couldn’t ever possibly dream of spending such sums of money outside of their own back garden, but if they truly want to deliver on their pre-election promise to rebalance the economy of England way from London and towards the neglected regions, such as Yorkshire, then why not invest in a swathe of airports in the North?

Manchester & Newcastle airports both find themselves within the top ten busiest in the country (based on the 2013/14 figures) and Yorkshire has three international airports: Doncaster, Leeds and Humberside. Those airports handled a grand total of 4,235,442 passengers last year*. In addition to this, Doncaster has one of the longest runways in the entire country, which makes it a perfect destination for haulage planes transporting cargo.

We all know Yorkshire has been shafted when it comes to infrastructure in general, but if you thought it might have been a different case for our air travel, sadly, it isn’t.

London will continue her quest to inwardly invest, regardless of the damage that the lack of development will do to our regional economies, quite simply because they don’t have to worry about us until the next General Election.

*Passengers handled

Doncaster: 724,885

Humberside: 236,083 *2013 figures

Leeds: 3,274,474

Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority

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