Battling the Nimbys…with stupidity

Put it on, the end is coming

Couldn’t help noticing a story in last night’s Evening Standard (by the shifty Andrew Gilligan) exposing the cack-handed ‘dirty tricks’ deployed by BAA’s PR agency, PPS in their efforts to counter the plucky yet economically nonsensical efforts of the Stop Stansted Expansion people.

Now from what I have read, Stansted is an ideal location for an airport and no matter what green guilt hand wringers say (as if a few fewer Brits on holidays will make any difference at all to global warming) , it is crucial for the UK’s future that pressure be taken off of crammed, decaying Heathrow and that airport capacity remains competitive with the rest of the world.

Hopefully the vital expansion plans will just be slammed through, regardless of amusingly crap Jamie Oliver endorsed websites. BAA should also be broken up immediately and airlines encouraged to buy shares in the airports they use, but that’s another story.

It is a sticky situation for a PR counter-offensive. Most of the people affected are sitting on gluttonous amounts of housing equity and don’t need jobs, and no-one really wants an airport next door so what to do? Writing transparently fake letters from imaginary residents and placing them with local media is the schoolboy answer.

A much better idea would be to acknowledge the reason and reality of local opposition while making a broader case to the nation. How many jobs would be created? What would be the effect on GDP if UK airports reached capacity? How much more expensive would the average British holiday be if the airports are full? Why is air travel being used as an easy, irrelevant global warming villain compared to bigger issues (like the fact that most electricity comes from carbon-based sources)?

It would be harder than pranking the local press, but in a representative democracy national interests and the views of the majority can, sometimes, win the day. But only if the case is well put…

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