Heathrow sure it can deliver within environmental limits

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Heathrow Airport proposed North West runway

Heathrow Airport says it has full confidence that expansion at the hub can be delivered within environmental limits and says it will work with the UK government to deliver a third runway.

The gateway’s plan involves building a new 3,500 metre runway about two miles Northwest of its two runways, at an estimated cost of £18.6 billion ($32 billion), which it says will be delivered from 2025-2029.

The gateway’s bellyhold freight will get a significant boost if it gets the green light, but it says it plans on expanding cargo infrastructure in the meantime, as part of a £180 million investment – regardless of whether it gets an additional runway in the summer of 2016.

Heathrow says expanding it will give the UK up to 40 more long-haul destinations, such as Wuhan, Osaka and Panama City, making it the best connected country in the world, more  than double the number of domestic routes served, ensuring every region and nation of the UK can get to global markets and, increase cargo capacity, supporting Britain’s exporters.

This it claims will result in up to £211 billion of economic growth, 180,000 jobs and 10,000 apprenticeships spread across the whole of Britain.

Heathrow says it is confident that its plans meet tough environmental conditions and will move into the delivery phase and explains logistics hubs are planned across the UK.

The airport’s chief executive officer, John Holland-Kaye says: “The Airports Commission, announced by the Prime Minister three years ago, made a unanimous and unambiguous recommendation in July for Heathrow expansion.

“Our new plan will connect the whole nation to global growth while providing opportunities for the local community and making Heathrow the most environmentally responsible hub airport in the world. I am confident we can meet tough environmental standards.”

“We have support locally and nationally from politicians, business, trade unions and the aviation industry for Heathrow expansion. Let’s get on and build a better future for Britain.”

The second option still on the table by the independent Heathrow Hub group, is to double the length of the existing Northern runway at a cost of £13.5 billion.

The group says it understands there is a need for further work and the director of Heathrow Hub, Jock Lowe says: “Given the importance of this major national infrastructure decision, a short delay to do additional work on the noise and air quality impacts of airport expansion seems sensible to us. The government is right that everything possible must be done to mitigate the effect on local people and the environment.

“Our independent proposal – which from its inception has been designed to be politically and socially acceptable – is still very much in the game, competing with the big corporate guns of Heathrow Airport Ltd and Gatwick.

“There can be no doubt that expansion at Heathrow is in the best economic interests of the entire country and our extended runway is cheaper, simpler and less disruptive than Heathrow Airport’s own third runway scheme. It also brings no new areas into the noise footprint.

“We are delighted that the Government has accepted the case for expansion and the full shortlist originally drawn up by the Airports Commission.”

An artist's impression of Gatwick Airport with two runways
An artist’s impression of Gatwick Airport with two runways

An expansion of Gatwick is also on the table at a cost of £9.3 billion. The Gatwick proposal will see a new a runway of at least 3,000 metres long, built far enough away from the existing runway to allow for fully independent operation. Gatwick says it can deliver it by 2025.

Gatwick Airport CEO, Stewart Wingate says the move by the government is a defining moment in the expansion debate as there is now a “clear choice facing Britain” – growth with Gatwick or inertia at Heathrow with an illegal scheme that has failed time and time again.

Wingate adds: “We have always maintained that this decision is about balancing the economy and the environment. Expansion at Gatwick would give the country the economic benefit it needs at a dramatically lower environmental cost.

“We are glad that the Government recognises that more work on environmental impact needs to be done. Air quality, for example, is a public health priority and obviously the legal safeguards around it cannot be wished away.

“Even Heathrow’s most vocal supporters must now realise a third runway at Heathrow will never take off as the environmental hurdles are just too high. If they want Britain to have the benefits of expansion and competition they should now look to Gatwick.

“Expansion has been in a holding pattern for decades. Momentum is now behind Gatwick as it becomes ever clearer that it is the obvious solution. We will continue to work closely with Government to take forward our plan which is legal, affordable, and can actually deliver for Britain.”

Gatwick says a second runway will deliver the UK the same number of passengers, the same number of long haul routes, better UK and regional connections, and the economic boost the UK needs, at lower environmental impact, at less than half the cost of Heathrow, and with no public subsidy.