Too much flying is bad for the planet

I HAVE an appalling love-hate relationship with aircraft and flying.I hate flying and I haven't flown for more than 20 years. I'd love to claim this was because I was an early convert to the idea that flying was bad for the environment, but that would not be true.

I HAVE an appalling love-hate relationship with aircraft and flying.

I hate flying and I haven't flown for more than 20 years. I'd love to claim this was because I was an early convert to the idea that flying was bad for the environment, but that would not be true.

I don't like flying because I don't like the idea of my life being in someone else's hands - and no other form of transport is that so true as when you are flying.

Statistically it's the safest method of travel, but there seems something unnatural about being in a tube 30,000 feet up in the sky - and if something dreadful did happen then there would be no hope of being saved.

I've always felt if I was in a boat, train, coach, or car crash then there would be a good chance I'd walk (or swim) away from it. I still feel that way.

However the little boy in me is still fascinated by aircraft and I've had many wonderful visits to Duxford Air Museum over the years.

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And until the last couple of years I'd felt that the expansion of Stansted was necessary for the future of this region - providing a regional link with the rest of the world.

However the more I've heard about the dangers of air pollution, the more I've learned about the economics behind the proposal, the more convinced I've become that such an expansion is unnecessary and would actually be bad for East Anglia and the planet as a whole.

As someone who lives and works in Ipswich the issue of aircraft noise is not as serious for me as it is for people who live in the country.

If I sit out in the garden on a Sunday afternoon there is a constant jet drone in the sky, but to be honest in the town it can be masked by the sound of traffic, neighbours cutting their lawns, and general urban noise.

But in the countryside the jets can be obtrusive and residents are right to fear huge increase in the number of planes.

For me though, the environmental damage caused by more and more jets is the clincher. The more I have found out about the damage caused by planes the more worried I become.

Planes inject carbon emissions high into the atmosphere, at a level where they will never be absorbed by plant life and where they can have the maximum impact on the greenhouse effect.

Is it really right to create more capacity for these jets to fly to places that we had never dreamed of visiting until RyanAir came up with £10 fares to them in a desperate attempt to grow a business that was never needed in the first place?

I have nothing against people using planes to fly to long-haul destinations like America or Australia on business or pleasure, and if Stansted had kept to its original promise and expanded the number of such flights I would not have such a problem with its expansion plans.

Neither do I really have a problem with charter jets taking families off to their annual two-week holiday to Benidorm or Corfu . . . so long as they don't expect me to join them!

But Stansted handles very few long-haul jets, and a tiny number of holiday charter flights. So keeping a lid on its expansion is hardly likely to affect them.

What does irritate me is the number of people who jet off to Prague or Bratislava for weekends - simply because there are flights there.

I really don't think many of those are really fascinated by architecture. They go there because the flights are cheap, the cities are seen as cheap, and because they think no one will see what they get up to.

If the cheap flights didn't exist they may well go on breaks from London to Bath, Stratford, York, Norwich, or somewhere else in Britain, keeping their money in this country's economy.

N What do you think of our Air Fair campaign? Does the number of planes in the sky over Suffolk bother you? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

IT WAS good to see so many of this country's great and good turn out at the weekend for the celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the end of the Falklands campaign.

But I could not help wonder what die-hard Labour members thought of the pictures of outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair offering his arm and support to Baroness Thatcher.

Of course the Iron Lady is now increasingly frail and needs help to get around - but I can't help feeling that the images will have done little to silence the critics who have described Mr Blair as the “son of Thatcher.”

When he was first elected she was reputed to have told her inner-circle: “We'll be all right with Mr Blair. He's one of us.”

Looking at the comfortable way they behaved together at the weekend, I'm sure many Labour members will be delighted that they'll be seeing the end of someone who was “One of Us,” in less than a week.

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