|Wildlife at risk - London's Heathrow Airport|
THE UK's county wildlife trusts have waded into the row over the decision to approve an additional runway at London's Heathrow Airport.
This is by contrast with organisations such as the RSPB ("Giving Nature a Home") and Natural England which have so far been reticent to speak out.
In a joint statement, the trusts say: "Vast effort must go into mitigating any airport expansion through investment in soil restoration, peatlands, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
"Given the very great value of a wildlife-rich, healthy natural environment, and the enormous pressure it faces, not least in the South east of England, any airport development must minimise its direct impacts on wildlife and habitat.
"We need thorough, evidence-based assessments of these potential impacts as early as possible, so that they can be annulled where possible or at least minimised with effective mitigation."
The statement continues: "Given what we know about habitat damage and loss of wildlife, it is unacceptable for any major development to be approved unless it can be shown that it will have a net-positive impact on wildlife, wild places and the wider natural environment.
"If the Heathrow expansion goes ahead, development on this scale (which will include rerouting of the M25 motorway), will require a massive effort to ensure that important wildlife sites in the surrounding areas are retained and designed into plans from the outset.
"Where wildlife habitats are lost, new habitat must be created as near as possible to the site and on a much greater scale than the area lost."
The trusts further note that access to high quality, wildlife-rich natural green space makes a very important contribution to public health, wellbeing and the quality of life of millions of people in the South-east
They say there needs to be "a thriving network of high quality wildlife-rich places possessed of maximum peace and tranquillity".
* To end on a positive note, the American corporate giant United Technologies, is making significant strides, through its Pratt & Whitney division, to devise jet engines that cut fuel-burn and carbon emissions by as much as 16 per cent, thereby slashing the release of the tiny particulates that are though to cause lung and heart disease. While aviation generates only two per cent of global carbon emissions, the impact is great because they are released in the upper atmosphere. The new engines should also be much less noisy than those currently in use.
* Photo of Heathrow Airport: Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia Commons