UK Government supports Heathrow’s third runway

By Charlotte Turner |

Heathrow-Airport-expansion-leadThis morning, the British Government announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow – the first full length runway in the south-east since the second world war. The scheme will now be taken forward in the form of a draft ‘National policy statement’ (NPS) for consultation, says the Department for Transport.

 

The debate on expansion at Heathrow – and/or at other airports in the UK – has been raging for over 25 years and the announcement this morning by no means signals the end of the debate, or legal challenges or protests from local residents, which are all expected.

 

Airport rival and staunch opponent of expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick Airport, posted this statement on it’s website just two days ago: “The choice before the Government on airport expansion is stark: it’s either growth and certainty with Gatwick or Groundhog Day at Heathrow.

 

“Just in recent memory, Heathrow expansion has been given the green light twice by Government and twice it has failed: In December 2003, transport secretary Alistair Darling published a white paper on a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow with completion expected by 2015.

 

“Challenges over noise and air pollution were identified and subsequently led to delay and division….Similarly, in January 2009, transport secretary Geoff Hoon announced the government had approved a third runway at Heathrow and asserted that air quality around the airport, even with expansion, would be within legal limits by 2015.”

 

However, the government has made its decision on its preferred location this morning; something which will be consulted on in the new year, says the Department for Transport.

Heathrow Airport3

The government has selected Heathrow as the preferred option for UK airport expansion, however a final decision on this is not expected for another year or more.

 

Today’s decision is said to be just one of a series of major infrastructure investments that will create jobs and opportunities for every part of the UK, says the government.

 

ECONOMIC BENEFITS UP TO $75BN

A new runway at Heathrow is meant to bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61bn ($74.6bn). Up to 77,000 additional local jobs are expected to be created over the next 14 years and the airport has committed to create 5,000 new apprenticeships over the same period, adds the government.

 

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The step that government is taking today is truly momentous. I am proud that after years of discussion and delay this government is taking decisive action to secure the UK’s place in the global aviation market – securing jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond.

 

“A new runway at Heathrow will improve connectivity in the UK itself and crucially boost our connections with the rest of the world, supporting exports, trade and job opportunities. This isn’t just a great deal for business, it’s a great deal for passengers who will also benefit from access to more airlines, destinations and flights.

 

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A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We welcome the news that Heathrow is the Government’s preferred site for a new runway and look forward to hearing the full details later from the Transport Secretary.”

 

“This is an important issue for the whole country. That is why the government’s preferred scheme will be subject to full and fair public consultation. Of course it is also hugely important for those living near the airport. That is why we have made clear that expansion will only be allowed to proceed on the basis of a world class package of compensation and mitigation worth up to £2.6 billion, including community support, insulation, and respite from noise – balancing the benefits and the impacts of expansion.”

 

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We welcome the news that Heathrow is the Government’s preferred site for a new runway and look forward to hearing the full details later from the Transport Secretary.

 

Gatwick Pier-1-gate-room-01

“The choice before the Government on airport expansion is stark: it’s either growth and certainty with Gatwick or Groundhog Day at Heathrow,” said Gatwick Airport two days ago.

 

BETTER CONNECTIONS

“Expansion of Heathrow is the only option that will connect all the UK to global growth, helping to build a stronger and fairer economy.

 

“We await the full details, but Heathrow stands ready to work with Government, businesses, airlines and our local communities to deliver an airport that is fair, affordable and secures the benefits of expansion for the whole of the UK.”

 

One of the strong arguments for expansion at Heathrow is that it will better connect the UK to long haul destinations across the globe and to growing world markets including in Asia and South America, bringing a significant boost to trade.

 

Heathrow says it already handles more freight by value than all other UK airports combined, accounting for 31% of the UK’s non-EU trade, and its expansion is expected to create even more opportunities for UK business to get their goods to new markets.

 

PRIVATE SECTOR FUNDS

Expansion costs will be paid for by the private sector, not by the taxpayer, says the government. It will be for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as the independent industry regulator, to work with Heathrow Airport Ltd and airlines operating at the airport, on the detailed design and costs to ensure the scheme remains affordable.

 

A third runway will also support new connections to the UK’s regions as well as safeguarding existing domestic routes. Heathrow has proposed a further six new routes to Belfast International, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees Valley to be added after expansion. The eight existing routes offered today are: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds Bradford. This would provide 14 domestic routes in total, and spread benefits right across the country.

 

For more information see the British Government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-decides-on-new-runway-at-heathrow

 

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