Heathrow Expansion Cleared for Take Off? [UPDATED]

Some sky (where planes go)

Some sky (where planes go)

See End of Item for Updates. Previously, on twickerati

If Howard Davies’ commission looking at options for expanding airport capacity gives the nod to a third runway at Heathrow there could be ‘open warfare’. According to the Evening Standard that’s what Boris Johnson says is going to happen if the Davies Commission makes the ‘catastrophic mistake’ of recommending the third runway solution. The Davies Commission’s final report was promised for after the next election but an interim report is due out next week.

The Standard is reporting that Davies’ initial work has identified three options for expansion… all of which involve one or two additional runways at Heathrow. Funny dat. The first is the ‘traditional’ third runway option, the second is two additional runways at Heathrow, and the third involves one more at Heathrow and one at Gatwick. There’s no sign of Boris Island although the paper does also report that ‘Heathrow expansion fan’ George Osborne favours the inclusion of the Boris plan or Stansted expansion as a fourth option – just to make up the numbers in the report, as it were.

So much for the idea that the airport discussion amnesty would last until 2015, it’s lasted just a few months. We can tell that you’re not entirely surprised by the news either.

* Standard Online

17 Dec 2013: The interim Davies report has shortlisted the following options which will now be subject to further investigation:
1) A new, 3,500 metre runway at Heathrow to the north-west of the airport;
2) Extending Heathrow’s existing northern runway. This would then become a 6,000 metre (!) runway which could be used for take-offs and landings;
3) A second runway at Gatwick.
And we assume that combinations of the above will be considered too. There’s no south-west runway option at Heathrow on the shortlist. Expansion at Birmingham and Stansted are effectively ruled out for the time being. Meanwhile the Boris Island option in the Thames Estuary is not on the list but will be looked at in 2014 to assess whether it’s remotely viable. So, some form of expansion at Heathrow looks a likely recommendation although the airport lovers’ ‘stick’ of two additional runways doesn’t explicitly feature at the moment. We assume the ‘carrot’ is the chance for more planes landing from Chinese mega-cities. With intense lobbying now going on from both sides, the battle over Heathrow expansion seems to have well and truly resumed.

El Brute are opposed to it and have issued a press release condemning expansion plans and warning about “caving in to the big foreign interests who dominate the ownership of Heathrow”. Zac Goldsmith’s opposed to it and is drumming up support for a petition. Twickenham MP Vince Cable is against it, tweeting, “I’m strongly opposed to the proposals for Heathrow expansion & shall be making that view known in the strongest terms”.

* BBC News
* Richmond Council’s view
* Vince Cable’s view
* Zac’s petition page


Filed under Local Issues & News

21 responses to “Heathrow Expansion Cleared for Take Off? [UPDATED]

  1. stellagdb

    I really don’t understand why there is such a strong drive to expand Heathrow, or at least airports in the area, when in many cases people have to travel up to London from other parts of the country to fly out from here. Surely it would make much more sense to spread air travel opportunities more equally around the country so that people can travel from their local airports. That would reduce travel across the country (and therefore pollution and costs) and leave the London airports for the use solely of those living in or travelling to the area.

  2. anonymouse

    It’s got to be slightly good news for us twickerpeople that the incredibly expensive SW runway option has been dropped.

    If the superhub model is history and capacity growth is driven by the budget airlines, then expansion of Gatwick makes most sense (& it’s the cheapest option).

  3. I happened to listen to Davies on the Today programme this morning. He is obviously very sceptical of “Boris island” so I wouldn’t hold your breath about that making it onto the shortlist. And those who complain about HS2 cost should look at the really eye-watering sums which he thinks it would cost.

    However, he said two very interesting things:

    1. All recent growth in air travel comes from low cost carriers (regular carriers’ flights have slighly declined in last few years).

    2. In response to a question on 4th runway at Heathrow, he said that point to point is becoming more important and “hub airports” less so.

    Having said both of those things, it would seem to thoroughly undermine the idea that an expanded Heathrow hub is the vital idea that certain business lobbyists suggest. As it happens, I am even more sceptical than Davies of the idea that a dominant hub is the way to handle air travel in the future (at least for a place like London where people actually want to go). There is no way we can or should compete with mega-hubs like Dubai which are built on transit flights. Much better to have competition amongst London and regional airports with improved rail links rather than entrenching a quasi-monopolist Heathrow. And that’s before we even get on to the environmental and economic issues….

  4. David

    So the South-West runway has been canned.

    I hate to say I told you so, but…

    I guess that’s good(ish) news for Twickenham.

    • physicist

      That was a good call David. I must say I feel a mixture of relief that Twickenham has dodged the biggest bullet, and depression that Heathrow expansion is back firmly on the agenda. We must remain focused on preventing that happening and blighting so many lives for another generation.

    • Purple Haze

      You might think that, I couldn’t possibly comment. 😉

    • Simon H

      Yep, that was a good call, David. Twickenham breaths an (audible) sigh of relief.

    • Steve P

      SW was a crazy idea and will never happen in any universe. Northern extension is deviously clever (hey it’s just a little more cement etc) and will be pushed hard instead.

  5. Purple Haze

    As we know David Cameron has made a u-turn over this issue and George Osborne has swung behind the case for expanding Heathrow.
    Boris Johnson says expansion of Heathrow would be a “catastrophic mistake”.
    Zac Goldsmith is challenging his leaders over the proposals and if they go ahead has threatened to leave the Conservative party.
    In September 2012 Vincent Cable said an expansion of Heathrow Airport is “not going to happen”.
    So three prominent members of the coalition government are dissenting voices and disagree with Tory policies.
    Some people might say Cable and Goldsmith have a vested interest, but as our MP’s and as residents they do, because they can represent the interests of local people who oppose this development.

    The main driver for expansion plans is commerce and the desire to make profits. It may be difficult to deny this wouldn’t help the country’s economy but it will be at a high cost to communities and residents because of increased noise, pollution, loss of amenity, sleep and health issues. There are also the subsidiary effects of noise caused by people turning up the volume on their TVs, radios and music systems because they can’t hear them due to the aircraft noise. Then there is the general blight caused by the airport’s growth into an already overcrowded area.

    What’s a realistic option? Get the Tory government’s own members to divide opinion amongst themselves and drive a split in the party over this? Then the public can vote them down in 2015 and replace them with a Labour government? But now Ed Milliband supports the expansion and Nick Clegg appears to oppose it.
    Anyone who is against this has to sign petitions, join organized groups such as HACAN and get involved actively, because schemes like this are notoriously difficult to contest and prevent from happening. Direct action can slow down the process and embarrass the government and the developers by inflicting high costs and delays, but it generally does not stop construction in the end.

    The best outcome is to get a political decision that mitigates any undesired outcome. Get on the side of the politicians that will help you as they are the only people who can help. If expansion does go ahead and Goldsmith and Cable ever come to the point they leave the coalition government, or their respective parties, maybe they should establish a ‘Third Way’ for the good of the borough?

    These days, when the perception is that not much separates each party from one another, this might be an attractive and smart option.

  6. Pat Pending

    Most locals are opposed but I suspect that if they lived somewhere else they’d be thinking that Heathrow expansion would be quite logical. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t express their concerns and objections. I doubt it will make much difference in the end because money speaks a lot louder than public opinion and the airport lobbyists care about one of those and couldn’t really give a shit about the other.

    I replied to the Council’s ‘referendum’ and I’ll sign a new petition but I fully expect it to have no impact on the decision.

  7. Simon H

    Evening Standard today saying that houses under new flightpaths could see their value reduced by at least 5%. I’d say that’s conservative, given prices have risen so much recently. Twickenham is specifically mentioned in the article.

  8. Joy

    The most frustrating thing is the apparent apathy. And the people who say that extra planes (and traffic – let’s not forget that) will make scant difference to what is there already. The talk of Sipson is so successful that that’s all people think of: some unvisited, unheard of place that won’t be much of a loss.

    I don’t see any evidence of local opinion; there seems to be no strong feeling about this. Perhaps this is because there are indeed forces at work, or maybe people are just content to plod along and have a good old moan once the deed is done. Can you imagine this happening in France? Emails are the modern way, for sure, but I just don’t feel any passion about this.

    For those of you who recognise the effect of an easterly wind in summer that prevents you from hearing your TV, any conversation or makes you close your windows, well, think of that and multiply it. Imagine the shattering of the peace that you can find at places like Richmond Park. So much for Richmond Hill being a protected view – you won’t be able to think straight as the jumbos thunder past.

    • Joy

      When I say “I don’t feel any passion” – I mean in the news pages, from residents. I am utterly peed off about the proposals.

    • michelangelo

      Can’t agree about “apathy”. Wasn’t there was a recent public vote organised by the Council on this, showing that most residents were against further expansion? As for Sipson, I went there on a large protest march a few years ago, and it is a very pleasant place, where people have their homes. Do not dismiss this, please

  9. simonh

    We’ve just moved away from Twickenham because we dreaded this decision.

    The flightpath for the preferred South West Third Runway will pass directly over the town, Marble Hill and Richmond Park. There will be planes every 90 seconds, for at least eight hours a day. The noise will be almost constant and equivalent to the level of disturbance in parts of the noisiest parts of Richmond now.

    If you enjoy sitting in your quiet garden in Strawberry Hill, or not being woken up by jumbo jets at 6am, then you might want to consider moving, too.

    Very sad.

  10. Don’t just give up, sign the on-line petition promoted by Zac: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-third-runway
    and make your opinions know by contacting airports.enquiries@airports.gsi.gov.uk

    • Rufus McDufus

      I totally agree about not giving up, but frustratingly local opinion has barely made any difference to the expansion so far. There are powerful forces behind Heathrow expansion (much like the terrible HS2 thing).

    • Simon H

      Several hundred thousand residents will be badly affected by Heathrow expansion, and many of them are very wealthy and influential, so I’d hardly say local people powerless. But there is a lot of naivety about at what’s going to happen, and that’s very concerning.