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Airports Commission Backs New Runway For Heathrow

by Jason Gorringe,, London

27 August 2015

The UK's Airports Commission in July decided that expanding Heathrow is the best of three possible solutions to solve UK's aviation capacity woes.

The Commission said that, while each of the three schemes shortlisted was considered a credible option, it unanimously concluded that the proposal for a new northwest runway at Heathrow Airport, combined with a significant package of measures to address its environmental and community impacts, presents the strongest case and offers the greatest strategic and economic benefits. The Government's plan will unlock around 40 new destinations and 70,000 new jobs by 2050.

The Commission's report describes the strengths and weaknesses of the other short-listed proposals. However, it found that the proposal for Heathrow would deliver similar economic benefits but would be less costly and require the loss of fewer homes. The proposal will increase capacity to a smaller extent however and will be less attractive from a noise and air quality perspective, the Commission said.

"The Commission's recommendations will ensure that an expanded Heathrow can be a better neighbor for local communities than the airport is today, while strengthening international connectivity, enhancing access from the UK's nations and regions, improving productivity and delivering substantial long-term economic and strategic benefits for the country as a whole. The government can and should use 'public service obligations' to support a widespread network of links from Heathrow to other UK airports."

Heathrow is also the country's largest air freight hub, carrying more freight by value than all the other UK airports combined. A new northwest runway at Heathrow will not increase noise above current levels, will generate up to GBP147bn in gross domestic product impacts over 60 years and over 70,000 new jobs by 2050, and will add regular daily services from the airport to around 40 new destinations, including 10-12 new long-haul routes, the Commission concluded.

Sir Howard Davies, who led the review of options, said: "Over the past two and a half years, the Airports Commission has reviewed the evidence without preconceptions, consulted widely, and followed an inclusive and integrated process. At the end of this extensive work program our conclusions are clear and unanimous: the best answer is to expand Heathrow's capacity through a new northwest runway. Heathrow is best-placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets. It provides the greatest benefits for business passengers, freight operators, and the broader economy."

"Adding capacity at Heathrow also provides an opportunity to change the airport's relationship with its local communities as some overseas airports have done. To make expansion possible the Commission recommends a comprehensive package of accompanying measures including a ban on night flights and a new noise levy to fund a far stronger and more generous set of compensation and mitigation schemes. And as there is no environmental or operational case for a fourth runway, the Government should take action in Parliament to rule it out firmly and finally."

TAGS: environment | business | aviation | services

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