CAMPAIGNS: Judge and Jury; Celebrations point the way to fifth terminal take-off

As Heathrow’s 50th anniversary celebrations took off, a decision on the fifth terminal is still up in the air, says Martin Minns, director of Warwich Corporation

As Heathrow’s 50th anniversary celebrations took off, a decision on the

fifth terminal is still up in the air, says Martin Minns, director of

Warwich Corporation



BAA’s celebrations to mark Heathrow’s 50th anniversary were well planned

and orchestrated. The celebrations, based around a visit by the Queen

(24 May) and a fly past of old and new aircraft (2 June), coincided with

a six-part BBC series entitled Airport, a poster design competition

organised by the BBC’s Blue Peter programme and an edition of Songs of

Praise broadcast from the airport. We were being asked to feel good,

even sentimental, about an airport.



The celebrations achieved substantial press and media coverage and

helped to reinforce the message that Heathrow is of great economic

importance, both nationally and locally, and a British success story to

be proud of.



Everything about Heath-row Airport is big. It covers 2,950 acres, it

directly employs 80,000 people, aircraft take off and land every few

seconds to and from 213 destinations in 85 countries, and 54 million

customers (equivalent to the population of the UK) pass through its four

terminals each year.



Estimates are that a further 26 million people each year will want to

use the airport by the end of the decade. BAA therefore, plan to build a

fifth terminal, a model of which was on display to the Queen and all

those attending the weekend celebrations. BAA obviously had at least one

eye on the battle to establish Terminal 5, when planning the 50th

anniversary celebrations, but their argument has only been marginally

addressed by this campaign.



A public inquiry (already in its second year) into the establishment of

a fifth terminal, will inevitably result in media coverage concentrating

to an unequal degree on those, predominantely local people (numbering no

more than a few thousand individuals) who oppose its development.



The rest of us, the millions who pass through Heathrow each year and the

tens of thousands of people, also predominately local to Heathrow, who

depend on the airport for their livelihood, will I suspect, get less of

a mention as the debate develops for and against the new terminal.



In fairness to BAA I am sure that their primary objective was to

celebrate in a public manner the 50th anniversary of the establishment

of Heathrow. In that they have largely succeeded. Their audiences,

national, local and political have been to a large extent addressed by

this campaign. The battle for Terminal 5, however, will be of a

different and it is a struggle which still lies ahead.



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