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Heathrow Airport floats expansion options

by Jim Dunton Wed 17 July 2013, 3:16 pm

Three potential locations for a third runway at Heathrow Airport have been revealed by bosses.

The submission to Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission proposes new runway locations at the north, north-west, and south-west of the current airport to boost capacity from 480,000 to 740,000 flights a year by 2029.

It said any of the options could be delivered for £14-£18 billion, making expansion of the airport cheaper than any rival hub plans, such as London Mayor Boris Johnson’s preferred Thames Estuary hub airport on the Isle of Grain in Kent.

Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said the two westerly options would offer full-length runways and minimise noise impact on local communities, while the north option was quickest to construct and cheapest, but had the biggest impact on residential property.

“After half a century of vigorous debate but little action, it is clear the UK desperately needs a single hub airport with the capacity to provide the links to emerging economies which can boost UK jobs, GDP and trade,” he said.

“It is clear that the best solution for taxpayers, passengers and business is to build on the strength we already have at Heathrow.

“We are showing how that vision can be achieved whilst keeping the impact on local residents to an absolute minimum.”

He added that each of the options could be turned into a four-runway solution should the demand increase in future.

Matthews said that expanding Heathrow to deliver additional airport capacity would protect 114,000 existing local jobs and create tens of thousands of new jobs nationwide.

He added that new rail, bus and coach schemes would increase the proportion of passengers using public transport to arrive at or leave Heathrow to more than 50 per cent.

Hounslow Council deputy leader Colin Ellar said that both the south-west runway at Stanwell Moor and the north runway at Sipson would have “a profoundly negative” impact on the borough, but said the north-west option was a “surprising” development that required further examination.

“The proposal to use only one runway for very late night or early morning departures and arrivals is potentially welcome for our residents, whose night’s sleep is disturbed, but again we would need to see the detail,” he said.

“At face value the proposals on improving rail links are welcome and would help alleviate congestion on the roads and help existing public transport links which are bursting at the seams, however, we need to see concrete plans rather than aspirations.”

The Airports Commission will later this year submit an initial report to ministers on options for maintaining the UK’s status as an international hub for aviation and immediate actions to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the next five years.

Its final report to the government is due by summer 2015 and will assess the environmental, economic and social costs and benefits of various solutions to increase airport capacity.

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