Thursday, 19 December 2013

Permaculture Garden[ing] Suburbs

Heathrow Garden Suburb
The Thames Estuary Research and Development Company (TESTRAD) is one of the standard bearers for a new 'London' airport  in the Thames estuary (1). Part of their recent sell for the estuary airport is to highlight some positive outcomes for the Heathrow site after air traffic moves to their London Britannia Airport, or as the Evening Standard put it 'Vision of a new London borough on site of abandoned Heathrow is revealed'. The article is accompanied by the graphic shown above which revisions Heathrow as a new garden suburb for west London.

Of course the whole basis for building new runways/airports at Heathrow or elsewhere is completely flawed. We cannot afford the carbon emissions of the aeroplane technology we have, and future pressures on liquid fuel availability are likely to turn air travel back to a luxury for the super rich within a human lifetime.So the question is not how do we expand UK airport capacity but how do we plan for their obsolescence.

Transition Heathrow
UK population growth may push towards the development of new garden cities, but  how about some Permaculture Garden[ing] Suburbs in existing cities? Ditch the Estuary Airport predicate of the TESTRAD story and revision it as a post heavier-than-air travel Grow Heathrow. Maintain the airport rail links and stick in a spur to the Grand Union Canal and the Thames dock at Brentford along the route of the A4 for a post-carbon transportation hub.
Brentford Dock at the height of associated rail connections.
 The decline in fossil fuels may not be the end of air transportation for either people or goods, but it may look very different in future. Dirigible lighter-than-air craft do not depend on runways to take-off and land, increasing the options when considering arrivals and departure points. Limits on helium availability but necessitate the use of hydrogen which some people will find uncomfortable, but they probably drive around in cars at high speed amongst loads of other cars travelling at high speed while they all carry a tanks containing gallons of petrol!

The Aeroscraft rigid airship

1) This is not the Boris Johnson approved Isle of Grain Thames Hub airport plan but a distinct vision for a a six-runway hub in the outer Thames estuary.

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