Heathrow: third runway gets report backing

Wed 1 July 2015, 9:35 am

The Airports Commission has released a final report backing the building of a third runway at Heathrow, saying it would add 147 billion in GDP over 60 years and create 70,000 jobs by 2050..

Support for expansion at Heathrow was unanimous, but comes with a package of measures to address environmental and community impacts. Expansion at Gatwick has not been ruled out, with the report saying the scheme is still feasible.

But the commission’s report on Wednesday morning (1 July) said that Heathrow’s plan was the strongest case for the UK's future airport capacity, delivering the greatest strategic and economic benefits and providing around 40 new destinations as connections. 

The recommendations for the runway are that it should sit further west than the current runways and that it should be full-length to "maximize connectivity benefits".

Measures included in the report to limit the impacts on those living nearby include:

  • A ban on all scheduled night flights in the period from 11.30pm to 6.00am, which is only possible with expansion.
  • No fourth runway: the government should make a firm commitment in parliament not to expand the airport further – there is no sound operational or environmental case for a fourth runway at Heathrow.
  • A legally binding ‘noise envelope’ putting firm limits on the level of noise created by the airport.
  • A new aviation noise levy to fund an expanded programme of mitigation, including noise insulation for homes, schools and other community facilities. 
  • A legal commitment on air quality that new capacity will only be released when it is clear that compliance with EU limits will not be delayed.
  • A Community Engagement Board, under an independent chair, with real influence over spending on mitigation and compensation and over the airport’s operations. 
  • An independent aviation noise authority, with a statutory right to be consulted on flightpaths and other operating procedures at all UK airports.
  • Provision of training opportunities and apprenticeships for local people, so that nearby communities benefit from the jobs and economic opportunities

There is no final decision on expansion at Heathrow, with several influential politicians, such as the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, opposing the proposals. 

Sir Howard Davies, who led the 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.” 

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