Both bailing out the failing airline and pushing on with HS2 will be disastrous for the environment, writes Prof Bill McGuire, while Isabella Stone says politicians must make it clear conserving the biosphere is in all our interests
In his discussion of Flybe and HS2 (Growth versus green? The short-term view always prevails, Journal, 16 January), Larry Elliott seems to be tying himself in knots. On the one hand, he rightly claims that it is the better-off who fly intercity in the UK, while on the other hand he suggests that allowing Flybe to go under would hack off a lot of voters, many of whom voted Tory for the first time in December. Frankly, I think it is more likely than not that intercity fliers and the reluctant Tories of the now-collapsed red wall form two mutually exclusive groups.
The bottom line is that both bailing out Flybe and pushing through HS2 are appalling options from an environmental perspective. The green way forward is simple and straightforward. Leave Flybe to sink or swim, keep air passenger duty as it is (or preferably hike it further), and scrap HS2. The £100bn or so saved should be diverted to developing railways – and reopening some of those lost to Beeching’s axe – in those parts of the country where improved transport links are needed most.
Emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards, University College London