23 OCTOBER 1971, Page 21


Triumph and disaster at Foulness

Sir: Mr Walker continues to hail the choice of Foulness as an environmental triumph. What foolishness. He should know that it is as disastrous for Foulness to be sacrificed as Cublington. At Foulness there is coastline, islands, rivers, and birds — 175,000 have been counted in an hour. The destruction of all this can never be called an environmental triumph.

Foulness Airport is the traditional solution of air traffic problems taken to its expensive, noisy, 4nd uneconomic extreme. It is time for a more radical approach. The aircraft companies are eager to build quiet short take-off airliners, and Dnly want Government encouragement. Yet this :hey will never get, because thereby the Govern ment would render the £1,000 million investment at Foulness obsolete. The choice of Foulness thus actively inhibits any possibility of improvement.

The rise in the number of air passengers has failed to materialize, and so there is no justification for a large third airport. Extra runways at Gatwick and Stansted will be sufficient. If the Government wishes to earn our gratitude, let it invest a fraction of the sums squandered on Concorde in the development of a plane which satisfies both the passengers and the people on the ground.

R. C. Selby Hertford College, Oxford