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A local conflict Essay

Q) With reference to a local conflict over the use of a resource that you have studied, discuss the extent to which all interest groups involved can be satisfied with its outcome. (40) The local conflict I have studied was the expansion of Heathrow airport, although the conflict itself ended in 2010 when it was legally resolved. However there are still effects that were created from the plans to expand Heathrow that have upset many different groups. In this essay I will discuss how the groups involved were either satisfied or dissatisfied with the outcome. There was a debate to whether or not the expansion at Heathrow was necessary. Here BAA (the airports directing company) pointed out that Heathrow was currently operating at 99.2% capacity utilisation meaning that even small incidents would create major delays, such as the ability of Heathrow to cope in extreme winter conditions such as snow. But the Greater London Authority and Hillingdon council argued saying there were alternatives such as expanding Gatwick airport. Labour parliament also intervened stating the huge increase in passengers should be met by London’s most efficient and largest airport should be developed into the UK’s air hub. However the conservative party suggested more alternatives such as improving rail infrastructure to allow extra capacity to spread to other airports such as Manchester.

This would benefit the north of England especially with the struggling economy. Arguments then arose over the impacts that would come from the expansion of Heathrow and there were many mixed attitudes towards this. A positive outcome economically would be that 140,000 new jobs would be created meaning that more people would be earning a decent wage paying taxes that would contribute to the government in funding public services such as hospitals. And if the expansion didn’t go ahead then it was estimated the UK would lose potentially £4.5 billion GDP growth and £1.6 billion of its existing GDP to other nations around the world. But the protest groups ‘Plane Stupid’ said that jobs would only benefit the south east as this is where Heathrow is located, it was also pointed out that the GDP figures are miniscule when compared to the UKs total GDP of £2.435 trillion. In terms of the environment, the labour government at the time presented schemes whereby extra greenhouse emissions would be offset. This included involvement in the EUs new Carbon Permit Trading Scheme.

However many environmental groups and charities argued against this. Greenpeace produced information showing that Heathrow’s post-expansion carbon footprint would be a similar size to that of Kenya’s. The National Trust pointed out that regardless of whether CO2 was being offset around the UK, London air quality would fall. Also, the impacts on local communities came into question. A village on the expansion site known as Sipson would be destroyed if the expansion of Heathrow was granted. This would involve 700 homes being demolished as well as several a listed buildings. BAA claimed it would relocate and reimburse the whole community displaced. They also said they would not destroy but in fact repair and maintain the listed buildings on the site. However Sipson village council, the Greater London Authority and the conservative party argued against this. They stated that significant proportions of Greenbelt land would be destroyed and the sound levels in the area would expand by several km2. In January 2009 Heathrow’s proposal for expansion was granted by the Labour Government. But this was put to a standstill as the demonstration groups opposing the plans for Heathrow appealed the decision to the Higher Court. It took a whole year of a legal battle but it was decided eventually in March 2010 that the Labour government’s decision was invalid and it was placed under review.

That year in the general election the Conservatives and Lib Dems came to power and cancelled all the plans and proposals of extending Heathrow. With this outcome many groups were satisfied such as the Royal Society for the protection of Birds as the habitat of many birds around the airport shall not undergo any more destruction. However it is notable that the expansion won’t occur in the medium term. This is due to the whole process shall have to be reran if the plans are to risen again. Therefore it could be argued that in the short term the opposition groups will be satisfied. But in the long term the decision may be overturned and these groups left dissatisfied. For example Sipson Village Council are now being brought into another conflict as an alternative to the expansion of Heathrow the government have begun developing the HS2 as an infrastructure project.

Supposedly it will link up with Heathrow, meaning the land will be built upon again destroying thousands of homes in the process. So now local communities are having to campaign in another conflict leaving them still dissatisfied. In conclusion, protest groups have been awarded for their hard work and efforts in avoiding the plans for Heathrow expansion going ahead which has been very satisfying. But in the long term more problems have arisen as the HS2 is said to be in motion which would just cause the same problems to local communities. It seems that no matter what the decision some groups will always have different feelings towards them of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

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