Heathrow Third Runway?

It’s making national headlines. Again. Boris is not a fan. Zac’s really not a fan. Justine wasn’t a fan and so whoops, she got the heave-ho. And of course the Lib Dems and “our” Vince are not fans either. They aren’t, but it looks like Cam and Ozzy are. But what do we know?

The option for a third runway at Heathrow is back in the news and Patrick McLoughlin, the new Transport Secretary, is regarded as a lot more amenable to the idea than Justine Greening, the old one. Well, we say ‘old’ but we mean the one who was doing the job until a couple of days ago. A third runway was ruled out at the time of the election. It’s not a vote winner. The business folk in favour only have one vote each at election time (we hope), but so do the runway’s opponents, and they’re more numerous.

The business types want more capacity and more flights so they can ‘do business’ with trading partners around the world, especially in the far east. What’s that? So Skype or Face Time is not good enough for you, eh? Ensuring London remains a leading international city requires a world class airport hub, they say. They’re probably right. Meanwhile environmentalists and many locals are strongly opposed to the idea. Well they would be wouldn’t they? Why here, why now and what about ideas for reducing travel rather than promoting it, they say. Also true. Add to that lot those who think that adding a third runway to the jumble of Heathrow will be worse than expanding elsewhere or building a proper 21st century airport hub for London from scratch and we’ve got a right old mixture.

Professional brain-box Sir Howard Davies has now been appointed to conduct a review into airport capacity. It will report back in 2015. That’s after the next election. Funny dat. With the election outcome less than certain, the whole thing could just be an academic exercise but whatever Davies comes up with, it’s sure to be loved by some and vehemently opposed by others.

Do we need Heathrow’s expansion to secure economic growth for the UK? Or do we need more capacity but only if it’s anywhere but here. Or do we take one for the team and happily wave at more planes filling the skies over west London? The third runway? To be, or not to be? Or rather, nimby or not nimby, that is the question? And we now know that it’s a question that will continue to run for at least another 3 years.


Filed under Heathrow, Local Issues & News

5 responses to “Heathrow Third Runway?

  1. odtaaPaul

    Even if the third runway was built it would not provide the capacity that would be needed when it was completed.

    There are now two other serious proposals:

    Boris Island, which would have a four runway airport. This has a lot of potential environmental problems and the transport structure would alos be very expensive.

    A new proposal to build a four runway hub airport to the west or north of London
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2197082/Secret-plans-new-60bn-runway-airport-right-Heathrows-doorstep.html (This was reported in the Times and Independent – and looks a serious solution).

    The latter seems to be more sensible as it would build a completely new hub airport. The project would be dependent of getting upgrades to rail connections to London. It would be a relatively low cost to upgrade existing proposals and would be accessible by a larger section of the British population.

    Politically I don’t see how either Boris Island or Heathrow can proceed.

    Long term I would assume that Heathrow would reduce its capacity but I reckon it would still exist probably as a rival to Gatwick as a predominately charter airport. In this capacity it would be a lot easier to control times of flights and volume.

  2. Twicktor Meldrew

    It would benefit Twickenham (and the UK) to build the third runway. Only smaller and generally noisier small jets can use it, so they will stay further away from the town. A lot of the land north of Heathrow is fields so I don’t think the housing issue is as big as people say. The biggest issue, however, would probably be jobs. If Heathrow can’t expand and they decide to build Boris Island, unemployment across a large area would rocket, as would our taxes to pay for the new airport who’s costs would spiral.

    • Simon H

      To answer your comment point by point, Twicktor:
      1) The normal landing-approach flight path for the third runway would be be two or three miles north of Twickenham, causing us no noise nuisance. However, when the wind is coming from the east (as happens about 15% of the time), about a quarter of Heathrow planes take off over the town. If there were a third runaway, this number would go up by as much as 50%.

      2) The area where the new runway will be built is not fields. Several hundred homes will have to be knocked down in Sipson.

      Those residents will, of course, be well compensated. But a new flightpath for landing planes will be created over the likes of Chiswick and Ealing. People who currently have no aircraft noise at all—and live ten or more miles from Heathrow—will suddenly have loud jets flying over their heads every 90 seconds—as happens in places like Isleworth and Richmond now.

      3) It’s certainly true that Heathrow provides thousands of jobs. But a major new hub airport in the Thames Estuary would provide many more, in what is a very economically depressed area. Many airport workers currently living in Hounslow or Twickenham might have to move. But we all have to move for work from time to time (I have had to on numerous occasions).
      And if there were a mini exodus from West London, it would help ease chronic overcrowding. But I don’t think it will. West London is hardly poor or lacking in other opportunities.

      4) Boris Island would be funded by a mixture of private and public finance. It would certainly cost money, but so would the Third Runway, and I don’t think the average taxpayer would notice it in their pocket.

  3. Rufus McDufus

    In the same news this morning it’s reported that:

    * Thousands of new homes are needed in the UK.
    * Heathrow may have a 3rd runway requiring thousands of homes to be demolished.

    Joined-up thinking there…

  4. Joy

    So what happens when the third runway is not enough? A fourth, fifth and sixth? Or demolish half of west London and turn the whole place into an airport?! Surely this proposition is simply idiotic. If air travel and capacity is so important, shouldn’t we be looking at the long game and building, ooh three extra runways somewhere far less disruptive and potentially dangerous? This is not a nimby issue; it is a practical one.
    And people need to stop blathering on about SIpson. Sipson is a diversionary tactic so that the people who live in Hammersmith, Chiswick, Kew, Twickenham etc still think they’re not going to be affected!