Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Heathrow submits third runway plan to Davies Commission

Heathrow submits third runway plan to Davies Commission, Heathrow Airport has unveiled three options for a new runway, saying each one would be "quicker and cheaper" than plans for a rival hub airport.

The airport's submission to the Davies Commission, which is looking at raising airport capacity, outlined a runway to the north, north-west or south-west of the existing airport.

It said a new runway could be in place by 2029, allowing 260,000 more flights.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said such an expansion would be "disastrous".

'Global hub status'
According to Heathrow's submission, building a new runway would deliver extra capacity at the airport by 2025-29 and would allow it to operate 740,000 flights a year - up from the current limit of 480,000.The plans would "maintain the UK's global hub status for the foreseeable future" and "protect the thriving businesses and plentiful jobs that surround Heathrow", it said.

Heathrow's preferred option would be to place a new runway to the north-west or the south-west of the airport.

This would "deliver a full-length third runway while minimising the impact on the local community".

The submission also detailed how a new westerly runway would help reduce noise pollution because planes would not have to fly so low over London.

It predicted that, even with a third runway, there would be 10-20% fewer people affected by noise under its new plans.

The option of building north of the airport would be the quickest and cheapest, the airport acknowledged - but it would also be the nosiest and have the biggest impact on residential property.

Each of the options would mean the compulsory purchase of some properties and some property demolitions, as well as potentially major work on the M25.

The submission also outlined the need for a sixth terminal at Heathrow as part of the plans - which would enable the airport to handle 130m passengers a year, rather than the current figure of 70m.

'Flying pigs'
Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said: "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.

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

He continued: "Today we are showing how that vision can be achieved while keeping the impact on local residents to an absolute minimum."

Mr Matthews said he had not ruled out a fourth runway at Heathrow, but said this would not be needed until at least 2040.

However, Mr Johnson said the proposals for a new runway at Heathrow "were politically, environmentally and socially unacceptable".

"There will be more pigs flying than aircraft if we are to believe the claim that three runways at Heathrow will make less noise than two," he said.

Mr Johnson added the move "would be a disastrous outcome for Londoners, nor would it solve our aviation capacity crisis as a fourth runway would need to be in the planning process before a third was even open".

On Monday, the mayor published proposals for three possible replacement hubs - an artificial island in the Thames Estuary dubbed "Boris Island", a major expansion at Stansted, or an airport at the Isle of Grain in north Kent.

All airports must submit their plans to the commission by 19 July.

Meanwhile, David Learmount, of aviation experts Flightglobal, said expanding Heathrow was the "most disastrous" option in terms of air pollution and noise, but was the best short-term solution.

He said better long-term options were large hub airports at Gatwick or Stansted, while the Thames Estuary plan could also work but would "take ages" to build.

Nic Ferriday, of Airport Watch, which opposes airport expansion that might harm the environment, said: "There is currently no shortage of runway capacity in south-east England and more 'interchange' capacity, which is what hubs airports facilitate, has no appreciable economic benefit to the UK."

But Labour peer Lord Soley told BBC News it made economic sense to expand Heathrow and protect the hundreds of thousands of jobs in west London that rely on the airport.

The Davies Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, was set up last year to examine "the need for additional UK airport capacity and recommend to government how this can be met in the short, medium and long term".

It is expected to recommend options by the end of this year, but will not submit its final report until summer 2015 - after the next general election.
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Title: Heathrow submits third runway plan to Davies Commission
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