13 reasons Heathrow expansion should not go ahead

…According to some London councils

A group of local councils in London and the South East have put together a report exposing what they claim to be “persistent bias” in the Airports Commission’s backing of Heathrow expansion.

The commission spent two years looking into airport expansion and recommended a controversial third runway be built northwest of Heathrow.

Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, said: “Heathrow is best-placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets. It provides the greatest benefits for business passengers, freight operators and the broader economy.”

However, following the commission’s verdict in July, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead councils have now produced a report dismissing some of the claims.

Here are 13 things the councils claim is wrong with the Airports Commission’s report on expanding Heathrow:

  1. According to the commission’s own forecasts, building a new Heathrow runway will give the UK just five extra long-haul routes by 2050.
  2. The commission’s forecasting predicts regional airports – including Aberdeen and Leeds Bradford - will lose existing long haul routes as a bigger Heathrow monopolises the long distance market.
  3. The same forecasts predict overall regional aviation connectivity will decrease, with direct routes between Heathrow and UK regional airports falling from seven to four.
  4. The commission’s own expert advisor panel reject the economic growth forecast used in the final report, pointing to “double counting”, “extreme assumptions” and “exaggeration”.
  5. Conventional HM Treasury growth forecasting predicts £33.6-54.8bn for expanding Heathrow expansion, similar to Gatwick expansion with £27.2-47.1bn.
  6. According to Transport for London, the commission has underestimated the cost of surface transport upgrades by £10-15bn. These costs fall entirely on taxpayers, wiping out a large slice of the benefit and diverting funding from other national infrastructure schemes.
  7. The commission’s own noise modelling estimates an additional 160,000 people and 108 schools will be drawn into Heathrow’s noise footprint.
  8. The commission confirms that half day noise respite periods provided today will not be possible with a three runway airport, hardening opposition from existing flightpath communities.
  9. The commission proposes a partial ban on night flights but this condition is being firmly resisted by the airport and airlines.
  10. Despite two years of analysis, the commission has failed to reveal the location of new Heathrow flightpaths. Once published, the backlash from newly threatened communities will test Government resolve to the limit.
  11. The commission’s own forecast confirm nitrogen dioxide levels around Heathrow are currently illegal and in some locations will get worse with a third runway.
  12. The commission’s test for compliance with EU pollution limits is based upon an incorrect understanding of the law. In reality, approving a scheme which exacerbates illegal pollution levels directly contravenes EU air quality legislation.
  13. The third runway’s price tag is vastly inflated by Heathrow’s location at the heart of a densely populated area and congested road network. Noise mitigation costs, community demolition compensation (1,072 homes), public transport improvements and burying the M25 in a tunnel inflate the cost base by billions.


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Readers' comments (2)

  • Anonymous

    A second runway at Gatwick is the only logical answer, With the big jets now available, offering greater fuel savings, they're quieter, & most of all are equivalent to 3, yes 3 smaller aircraft, meaning take of slots are decreased not increased, so urgent expansion at Heathrow is removed. It will take at least 10 years to demolish 2 lovely villages, and the shifting of the major road networks, only to find on completion they have become a white elephant, with all the major Airlines having acquired a range of the new big jets, i.e. Airbus 380, Boeing Dreamliner, & Airbus 350 that can more than cater for any expansion at Heathrow.

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  • You know, this isn't really an issue about runways, but instead it's about the crisis housing levels in London and the space for the expansion of business in London. That said, spend the money that will be available from Chinese and Middle Eastern Sovereign Funds and build a 24-hour, five runway state of the art hub airport with high speed rail and road connections to Paris, Brussels and the City of London and then say hello to Heathrow Garden City. Back in 2020 Heathrow GC was an area of London blighted by noise and air pollution. In the flight path of hundreds of flights per day lay nearly a million people. However, it wasn't until the great air disaster of 2018 that city planners conceded that a flight path across one of the most densely populated conurbations in the world was a tragedy waiting to happen. Now Heathrow Garden City, which replaced the terribly blighted areas that existed in the shadow of the old airport, has replaced Heathrow with a third of a million new homes and a flowering of business and enterprise. These businesses have access to London through the under and over ground rail systems and to the rest of the country through the motorway network. The estuary airport is thriving. Hmmm . What a brave new world is this.

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