Gillian Darley writes:
Essex, the most overlooked and undersold of counties, is under siege. In the north, it is menaced by the BAA, with its overweening commercial ambitions for Stansted Airport, starting with a second runway that will scythe through the undemonstrative countryside and lay waste to at least two hamlets of venerable buildings, while ensuring that the idyllic ancient deer park of Hatfield Forest – already harassed almost beyond endurance by air traffic – will be made a no-go area, with intensified noise and pollution. And all this despite objections from the budget airlines themselves, who don’t even want the new development (they know they’ll end up paying). In the south of the county, the sirens of regeneration are singing away at the Thames Gateway, an unsustainable development if ever there was one. Tens of thousands of new houses are to be built on land that looks suspiciously like a flood plain; on the Essex side of the estuary, residents will find themselves conveniently close to the proposed new mega-container port, Shell Haven, which will be the largest in Europe.