Posts Tagged ‘government’

Counting the costs of G20

April 1, 2009

What is the carbon footprint of the G20 summit? Of this, a fascinating factor is what the CO2 levels of president Obama’s London visit are: that 747 (Airforce One), his 500-strong retinue, all the preceding support flights bringing battalions of SUVs, helicopters and of course ‘the Beast’ – the 3.5 tonne bomb-proof Cadillac limo.

Surprisingly none of the eco-warriors seem to be publishing calculations on this – anyone know?

Please share this info with us!

And another factor – how much is G20 costing? Figures being tossed around are in the region of £20 million. Ironic that at a time when the business travel and meetings and events sectors are thoroughly debating cutting down and video conferencing options, the big daddy of all meetings is being staged. I guess budgeting considerations are different when the global taxpayer is footing the bill…

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Heathrow expansion: Tories throw spanner in the works

January 15, 2009

Heathrow: First it was celebrities buying plots of land on the third runway site (see below).

But  the Tories are throwing a bigger spanner in the works: they vow to pull the plug on the project if they get into government – this was said categorically by shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. heathrow-silhouette

Surely this must be a bigger threat than the likes of Emma Thomson and Zac Goldsmith buying parcels of land in fields near the Sipson – the village earmarked for bulldozing to make way for the runway.

I expect most political pundits would say all bets are off at the moment as to who would win the next election and when that will be. But they’d probably say the Tories have a fair chance of winning.

This raises a whole bunch of interesting questions for the project. What will happen to the massive amount of commercial contracts signed off by then if the projects already underway?

Participating companies would presumably already invested millions. Is this going to put firms off bidding?

What if compulsory purchase orders for the site have already been completed?

And does this mean they will give stronger support to a new estuary airport? – as proposed by London Mayor Boris Johnson

Answers below please. UK Plc needs to know!

Heathrow: how cunning is Operation Baldrick?

January 13, 2009

The press are busy today adding a showbiz splash of celebrity names to the Heathrow airport expansion furore – a much-needed dash of colour to the Hounslow concrete grey of this story.

Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson and comedian Alistair McGowan are among those buying up land which will be needed by BAA for the third runway. They’re adding their clout to a plan of action by Greenpeace.

The idea is that completing compulsory purchase orders on all these tiny plots of land, with their disparate owners around the world will be a Herculean task for the government. airport3

It’s kind of cunning I suppose, but also rather depressing – rather than changing the path of global CO2 emissions and climate change, it just means the Heathrow expansion will take longer and be more expensive.

Meanwhile, in the fraught intervening years, Heathrow and its surrounding environs will just carry on being increasingly polluted, congested, dysfunctional and miserable. Great.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Why not just build another bloody airport!? Instead of tinkering around with this 70-year-old edifice that was originally conceived in the Jurassic era of air travel. Like those many other countries, which have a more creative, forward thinking, can-do attitude towards air travel.

Living it Taj: back in business

December 18, 2008

It’s heartening to see the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai announcing that it will be reopening on Sunday (December 21). This seems a remarkably quick feat given the amount of damage to the hotel we saw on TV during those appalling terrorist attacks.

I hope it’s equally disheartening for the terrorists to see such a determined return to “business as usual”. 

In the words of the Taj homepage: “You will feel the buzz of business as usual and experience hospitality that is quintessentially Taj.” taj-exotica-maldives27

OK, there’s a dash of PR cliché, but I think I can agree there is something “quintessential” about these hotels. I’ve stayed in two of them, the Taj West End in Bangalore and the Taj Exotica in the Maldives. Very different – the West End is a business hotel in the heart of a global commercial hub, while the Exotica is a romantic hideaway resort on a tiny Indian Ocean atoll.

If you missed them, here’s the Maldives and India (Golden Chariot train journey) stories for ttgluxury: http://www.ttgluxury.com/

In both properties I found the staff and management – how to describe? I don’t know, beyond the usual exquisite Asian levels of service, they’re sophisticated, intelligent, without too much fuss.

Bangalore’s West End with its tranquil pools and tropical gardens is a calm oasis in the crazy tumult of this full-throttle city.

The Exotica in the Maldives is… well, OK, the picture you see is my snap of the sun rising over the aircraft carrier-sized infinity pool on my presidential water villa. But that doesn’t mean I’m totally biased.

Now, you may think an impoverished travel journo is easily taken in by a bit of five-star hospitality. But most writers have been around long enough to distinguish between quality service and bullshit and bling. In fact anyone who’s bought a surly, crap coffee for the wrong side of £5 in London, Paris or anywhere else will understand.

Anyway, good luck to the Taj for its fast-track reopening on Sunday. And when you’re next inviting those freeloading ladies and gentlemen of the press to sample your wares, bugger the firebombs – I’ll be there.

 

 

Bin bags, WTM and the Olympics

November 18, 2008

Last week we rang the council to order some compostable bin bags, which it sells so residents can recycle organic waste. “No problem,” said the lady at the council. “They’ll be delivered within 3-4 weeks.”

If it takes 3-4 weeks for a government body to deliver some bin bags – it’s no surprise that 1,000s of distinguished foreign visitors found themselves stranded at Canning Town in the pouring rain on the first morning of WTM, because the DLR had gone kaput.

The question on all those foreign lips was: “How on earth will they cope with the Olympics?”

Since any challenge – from bin bags to Olympics – to a government department seems met with blithering incompetency, how indeed?

From Dr Beeching’s wholesale destruction of our rail network in the 1960s to John Major’s hopelessly botched Railtrack privatisation, to the current shambles, politicians seem to have a blind spot when it comes to any form of travel in the UK.

So who can we turn to for answers to our problems? What about those in the know – all the travel professionals out there? Please help!