Third London airport - in Hyde Park?

Hyde Park airport

In the 1960s the Roskill commission was tasked with producing a report into the best location for the third London airport. Its findings were reached though cost-benefit analysis, assigning an arbitary economic value to the unquantifiable. The report famously valued a Norman church at just £50,000 (the cost of its fire insurance).

As contermporary detractors noted, reports based on cost-benefit analysis carry the predjudices of their authors - and Roskill was no exception. The greatest weight was given to convenience of passengers, calculated by applying a per-minute value for any reduction in journey times to the combined number of minutes saved by the total number of passengers who might use the airport over a ten or twenty year period! Saving just one second per passenger would add up when aggregated over a decade or two - even if that second was saved by drastically increasing noise and pollution.

Airport resistance: the story of the Wing revolt

Back in the 1960s our forward-thinking transport planners commissioned a search for the location of London's third airport. Stansted started out as the forerunner, but by 1969 had been ruled out and Wing Airport, a small World War II airfield at Cublington, became the Government's preferred choice.

They hadn't counted on local opposition to their plans. On the eve of the Roskill report's publication, a small group of villagers came together to form the Wing Airport Resistance Association. Funds for the campaign came from numerous sources, from the sale of original fleet street cartoons to beetle drives, and at Stewkley a 'mile of pennies' outside the church raised a considerable sum.