The UK’s Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, has recommended a third runway should be built at London’s Heathrow. The commission’s report describes the move as the: “clear and unanimous choice” but says the new runway should be accompanied by a ban of night flights, legally binding targets on noise and air quality, and legislation to prevent a fourth runway ever being built.
The report said Heathrow’s benefits were “significantly greater” than Gatwick’s. Sir Howard said Gatwick put forward a: “plausible case for expansion” but was: “unlikely to provide much of the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long-haul destinations in new markets”.
The report states Heathrow’s £17bn plan will provide 70,000 new jobs and additional £150bn to the country’s GDP over 60 years. However, if the British Government – which cancelled plans for a third runway at Heathrow five years ago – should choose to accept the commission’s choice it seems certain that a lengthy legal battle lies ahead. The option chosen by the commission would mean demolishing 783 homes, including much of the nearby village of Harmondsworth and a high-profile political battle seems inevitable.
Sir Howard Davies himself has said the government will need to review the report carefully before making its choice but said it should: “move as quickly as it can.” However, a government spokesperson has already stated it will not be rushed into making a decision. Whatever happens next, it seems certain a new runway cannot be delivered for at least a decade.
Heathrow’s third runway: the conditions attached
• A ban on all scheduled night flights from 2330 to 0600.
• Laws preventing a fourth runway ever being built.
• A legally binding “noise envelope”.
• A noise tax on airport users to compensate local communities.
• A legal commitment on air quality compliant with EU limits.
• A “community engagement board” to let local residents have a voice.
• An independent authority to be consulted on flightpaths and operating procedures.
• Apprenticeships and training for local people.