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Why can Londoners get facts while we get ignored?


The debate over London's airport capacity received an important additional contribution recently in a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T) who found that expanding Heathrow could result in 3 times as many deaths from the reulting pollution in 2030 than building an airport on the other side of the city in the Thames Estaury.

The report was picked up by many media outlets and given wide publicity, such is the interest in whether or where extra airport and runway capacity should be built in the South East.

A spokesperson for the scientific team even joked that the findings shouldn't be a major surprise given the prevailing westerley winds that blow Heathrow pollution across the entire city, but would send the same pollution cloud over the considerably less densely populated North Sea from an airport east of London.

The scientists produced a result in accordance with commonsense, which was thereby somehow invalid, and they put some numbers to it.

A spokesman for Heathrow, obviously anxious to find something to say, pointed out the truth that 'airport pollution was responsible for far fewer deaths than traffic pollution' every year.

The MIT report reckoned that Heathrow pollution, presently responsible for 50 deaths a year out of the UK air transport related 110 a year, would be responsible for 150 deaths each year by 2030 with an East of London option causing the same 50 that Heathrow causes now.

The spokesman's comment was correct as recent widely circulated figures showed road traffic as responsible for 4,500 deaths a year in London now.

Translated to Edinburgh the equivalent figure for deaths attributable to road traffic this year would be something around 250 deaths.

The significant thing is that our Council have never made clear what the traffic flows across the city will be after the tram begins to run.

Our debate has never benefitted from any recognition of what is also a commonsense understanding that the research into road traffic pollution and it's effects on health show without any doubt that higher levels or pollution create higher levels of death and illness---and that is that if you close down main routes and force the same amount of traffic down less capable residential roads you will create more pollution from the same amount of traffic and concentrate it in places where people necessarily have to spend more time within it---you may increase deaths and ill health.

Where Londoners have one of the World's greatest universities producing light in their debate---we have a Council still denying the obvious in our debate.

They have a Heathrow sized problem that deserves open discussion and is receiving it--we have a problem five times bigger than the Heathrow one, and 10 years older, that remains shrouded in obfuscation, secrecy and denial