First, the customary declaration of interest. Those of us who live in the Richmond area in South West London tend not to be fans of expanding Heathrow airport, although it has always struck me as an odd argument that the objections of at least one million people along the flight path are deemed irrelevant simply because they are objecting to increased pollution, as though experiencing the pollution nullifies the validity of their objection. That’s pollution that is already at shocking levels without adding even more flights over a city that is choking.

Today, the government has brought disaster a step closer, giving Heathrow the go-ahead. Yes, yes, yes, we can just move (and some of us, even those of us not right under the flightpath, will) if the third runway is ever built at Heathrow by 2030, perhaps. My main objection remains that building it is a dreadful decision for the following reasons:

1) No other major city flies so many planes directly over its centre, which seems to be asking for trouble.

2) If – if – the UK needs a mega-airport, a five or six runway airport to compete with the new airports being built by other countries, then Heathrow can never be big enough. A third runway would take perhaps 10 to 15 years, and then what?

3) It is anti-competitive. If there is no appetite for a new mega-airport, in the Thames Estuary, on the model built in several places in the Far East, then surely it makes more sense to allow Gatwick to expand, rather than giving Heathrow virtual monopoly status.

And then, again, there is the pollution and disruption. As someone once put it in a series of blogposts:

“The government paid no attention to the opinions expressed by members of the public and have decided to push ahead with expansion despite all the environmental warnings… I know from all the letters and emails I get that many local people will be devastated by the Government’s decision… A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people.”

That was Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead and in 2009 an opponent of a third runway, writing on her website in posts that have mysteriously disappeared. Luckily, the Sun managed to unearth them this morning. Now, incredibly, May is recast as the pro-Heathrow Prime Minister.

There will now be the mother of all public campaigns fought against a government with a small majority and already a lot on its plate with Brexit. Action groups will be founded and they will be extremely well-funded, by the financiers, lawyers and other professionals who live in Richmond, Putney and Wandsworth. The local authorities are united and the popular Mayor of London is opposed too. The scheme will be tied up for years in court cases and demonstrations and it will, I suspect, never happen.

Lucky old Boris though. This gives the Foreign Secretary, an opponent of Heathrow expansion, and an advocate of a new airport, a chance to reestablish his insurgent credentials by leading the campaign against this madcap scheme. Look what happened to the last PM he went up against…