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Transport Select Committee: timetable for Heathrow expansion needed

by Marco Cillario Wed 11 May 2016, 4:16 pm

The Transport Select Committee has urged the government to set a clear timetable on Heathrow expansion, recommending the creation of a third runway, while the airport has announced it will meet and exceed the expansions conditions set out by the Airports Commission.

One of the architects' concepts for the future Heathrow.

In a report published on 4 May 2016, the committee chaired by Louise Ellman MP said that Heathrow’s expansion in the south-east offered the greatest economic benefit and would do more to improve connectivity internationally and within the UK.

Criticising the government’s indecision on the matter, the report added that the arguments for and against expansion had changed little in the last 25 years and that a decision on the location should be made without further delay. 

“Across the world, cities are collectively planning to build more than 50 new runways with capacity to serve one billion additional passenger journeys by 2036,” said Ellman.

“The growth of large hubs in the middle and far east and North America threatens our position as a hub of international aviation. The UK's connectivity with the world's emerging markets is a major concern.”

The report recognised that local residents and environmental campaigners had raised “legitimate concerns” which deserved consideration, but the committee believed that the noise and environmental effects could be managed as part of the pre-construction phase, and suitable schemes for compensation for residents in affected communities could be devised.

Hounslow Council leaders and senior developers had already unanimously urged the government to take a decision on the expansion during the MIPIM property conference which took place in Cannes in March. 

And on 11 May Heathrow announced it would “meet and in most cases exceed” a set of conditions for expansion set out by the Airports Commission while recommending the expansion in July 2015.

Writing to the prime minister, David Cameron, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye set out the principles to which the airport has committed itself.

They include: supporting the introduction of a ban by the government on flights between 11pm and 5.30am; backing a proposal for the Environment Agency to be made an independent aviation air quality authority for the airport; establishing an education and skills taskforce that will identify how best to develop the airport’s future skilled workforce and to create a legacy for UK infrastructure projects.

The Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin MP said the case for expansion was “clear” but further work was needed before a decision could be taken on location.

The government indicated that the work should “conclude over the summer” so that the timetable for delivering additional capacity by 2030 could be met.

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