The decision to allow the expansion of Stansted and London City Airports makes good economic sense in the current climate. Granted, there will be some costs, mainly environmental, but these will be outweighed by the benefits on a much greater scale. It would have been foolish to stop this expansion.
The current overcrowding and delays at airports acts as an indication that they are inefficient and need improving. The market should be left to satisfy this consumer demand.
The expansion of the airports will facilitate economic growth (or at least help slow the decline of growth) by increasing the UK’s international competitiveness. Protestors are underestimating the significance of local multiplier effects from the expansions. With forecasts of large unemployment growth in the next two years, allowing airports to expand to meet demand is one thing that would would create sustainable jobs in the long term, and may also local businesses will benefit.
There is no ideal solution to this dilemma but the costs and benefits of this project are clear. If the local area is already blighted by noise and air pollution then there will be diminishing marginal costs to it from an expansion. Over time the market should enable the enterprise of greener and cleaner flight technologies to satisfy societies needs.