The Future of Airport Capacity in the UK
The independent Airports Commission has today (Wednesday 1 July) published its long-awaited report into the future of aviation capacity in the United Kingdom.
At 344 pages in length, the report examines multiple facets of government policy and offers numerous recommendations as to the future of this key driver of economic growth but its findings are likely to be summarised in just two words: “Heathrow expansion”.
Upon examination of three proposals for boosting air capacity – a second runway at Gatwick, an extended northern runway at Heathrow and a new third runway to the North West of Heathrow Airport – the Commission unanimously selected the latter option as offering “the greatest strategic and economic benefits – providing around 40 new destinations from the airport and more than 70,000 new jobs by 2050.”
The extension of the existing northern runway was ruled out on the grounds of failing to match either the economic or capacity benefits provided by a new, third runway.
The Commission were keen to stress that the recommendation in respect of a new, North Western runway were different to those proposed in the past. With the site being located further to the west than previous proposals, the Commission hoped to mitigate some of the fears that exist about the impact of excessive noise and pollution upon West London and the Home Counties. A ban would continue to be maintained on flights between 23:30 and 06:00, with a further recommendation that the government rule out any further expansion of the site to include a fourth runway. Further recommendations were made in respect of the need for roughly £5 billion in road and rail upgrades to the airport in order to provide greater ease of access to the airport and mitigate challenges regarding excessive traffic in West London.