Sectors - Civil

Airports Commission recommends new Heathrow Airport runway

Northwest runway recommended by Commission who say fourth runway should be rejected.

The Airports Commission’s final report has been published today and it has unanimously recommended that a new northwest runway at Heathrow Airport is the best option to serve future economic benefits.

This report is the result of three years of consultation and analysis to find the most viable option for airport expansion following concerns previously raised by various politicians and communities close to Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow Airport is seen as the best option because it is expected to deliver nearly double the amount of economic benefit that would be available from Gatwick, while another 40 new long-haul connections would be made to emerging growth markets.

In the report, Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, went through the different options that will help to solve a capacity problem that “has perplexed governments for over 50 years.”

Expansion is needed because Heathrow is already operating at capacity and Gatwick is not far away from the same point. Although capacity is available in the south east for low cost flights, this is not the case for its main hub airport, and the worry is that new long-haul flight routes are being set up in Europe, rather than London.

If things continue the way they are, London’s airport system will be full by 2040.

Therefore, the Commission has assessed the reasons for airport expansion, with it being described as vital for the UK economy.

Sir Howard Davies said: “The service sector, whether the City, the media industry or universities, depends heavily on prompt face-to-face contact.

“There is strong evidence that good transport links, and especially aviation connectivity, make an important contribution to enhancing productivity, which is an important national challenge.”

The ‘clear and unanimous’ conclusion is to expand the runway capacity at Heathrow Airport.

In the report, the Commission has explained the reasons for this, with a new airport in the Thames Estuary ruled out because of cost, environmental concerns and disruption to businesses and communities.

Gatwick’s “plausible case for expansion” was considered but ultimately rejected because it could not add significant capacity to long-haul destinations in new markets.

The northwest runway scheme was chosen because Heathrow is capable of providing capacity quickly and is feasible.

Sir Howard Davies added: “The costs are high, but financeable by the private sector, in our judgement and that of investors.”

The Commission is mindful of the fact that expansion at Heathrow has been advised before and rejected by concerned communities, but the report has set out ways in which the expansion will be acceptable to people living locally and to those in London.

As a result, there will be a ban on night flights from 11.30pm to 6.00am, there will be a ‘noise envelope’ that will limit the noise created, an independent aviation noise authority, and a noise levy to fund a stronger set of compensation and mitigation schemes.

The Commission has said that the Government should also rule out the creation of a fourth runway.

Local people will benefit through training and apprenticeship opportunities that will be made available to help the job and economy in the area prosper.

John Holland-Kaye is Chief Executive of Heathrow Airport, and he believes the scheme will result in economic growth.

He said: “Our new plans have been designed around the needs of local communities and will meet carbon, air quality and noise targets, and provides the greatest benefit to the UK’s connectivity and its long-term economic growth.

“We will create the world’s best connected, most efficient and most environmentally responsible hub airport at the heart of an integrated transport system.

“The Commission has backed a positive and ambitious vision for Britain. We will now work with Government to deliver it.”

The Government will now consider the advice given in the report and Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLaughlin, will make a statement in Parliament later today.


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