Airports Commission reports for consultation

heathrow freight planesThe Airports Commission has published for consultation its assessment of proposals for additional runway capacity at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, with the Heathrow third runway option creating the most UK jobs.

The consultation presents the commission’s analysis of the proposals shortlisted by the commission last year: two for expansion at Heathrow Airport and one proposal at Gatwick Airport.

It invites public comment on the commission’s detailed consideration of each proposal. This includes analysis of the cost of each proposal, the effect on communities of noise, property loss and construction, and the economic benefits and environmental impacts.

On the key economic impact measures, Heathrow’s third runway proposal would create the most jobs nationally, and roughly the same GDP benefit as extending the northern runway. Expansion at Heathrow by one or other proposed method would provide almost twice the economic benefit of expansion at Gatwick.

A third runway at Heathrow – the North West Runway proposal – is forecast by the Airports Commission to generate approximately 190,000 net additional jobs by 2060, and to add between £95.2bn and £184.5bn to UK GDP, rising to £107.8bn to £197.1bn when construction impacts are included.

The plan to extend Heathrow’s northern runway – the Heathrow Hub proposal – would create approximately 170,000 net additional jobs by 2060, and add between £85.8bn and £187.4bn to GDP, rising to £98.0bn to £199.6bn when construction impacts are included.

A second runway at Gatwick would add  create approximately 90,000 net additional jobs by 2060 and add between £29.4bn and £102.4bn to GDP, rising to £32.8bn to £105.8 when construction impacts are included.

The local impact of either Heathrow option would be positive, with around 100,000 jobs created by either expansion proposal. Heathrow’s own R3 proposal would generate the most local jobs – at 112,000 by 2030. This would also bring a requirement for 26,000 new homes in the area.

Sir Howard Davies said: “Since our Interim report last year we have undertaken a huge amount of work. We have carried out a thorough assessment, across a comprehensive range of subjects, looking at the benefits and impacts of each proposal.

“We have not yet taken a view on which proposal strikes the most effective balance between the assessment criteria. It is important first that we provide an opportunity for this evidence to be examined, challenged and improved. This consultation gives everyone with an interest in the issue of airport expansion that opportunity.

“Responses to this consultation will be a valuable addition to our evidence base and will directly inform our recommendation to the government when we publish our final report in the summer of 2015.”

Further sections of the Commission’s reports cover cost, noise, and other impacts, although Heathrow point out that the Commission’s appraisal confirms that the expansion of Heathrow can be delivered while reducing aircraft noise for local residents. It says that “When compared to current noise levels, fewer people are predicted to be affected across all metrics”, and that the Commission also says that Heathrow expansion would result in a “positive impact” on night flight noise in the future thanks to improvements to aircraft technology and the capability of early morning arrivals to land further to the west.

Heathrow would also deliver more long-haul flights than Gatwick, support more UK cargo exports, and be better connected to the rest of the UK by rail according to the Commission’s consultation document. Although it also notes the growth in low-cost carriers, with Sir Howard Davies saying modelling what air travel looks like in the future is “the tricky bit”.

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, welcoming the reports, said: “The Commission has confirmed that only Heathrow can connect all of Britain to global growth, delivering over £200bn to the British economy and 180,000 jobs while reducing noise for local residents compared to today.

This shows that Heathrow’s proposal is deliverable and is the only way to keep Britain at the heart of the global economy. Now it’s time for all those who want a better future for Britain to make their voice heard and back Heathrow.”

Frank Wingate, CEO of West London Business, said: “The Davies Commission points out that an expanded Heathrow will deliver more jobs and more business around the country than Gatwick can. It will also become quieter. But on top of all that, Heathrow offers a hub airport’s long-haul business connectivity crucial for this country’s economic future. Gatwick simply can’t provide that.”

Heathrow Hub say the publication of the Airports Commission public consultation report, “confirms that our proposal is the most deliverable option on the Commission’s shortlist”.

Jock Lowe, the longest serving Concorde pilot and the leader of the Heathrow Hub concept, said:“We believe we have an innovative solution to Heathrow expansion and that the British public, given a chance to consider our proposal in some detail, will agree that our approach offers the UK the best possible answer to the growing aviation capacity challenge that we all face.

“We will also continue to advocate the development of an integrated rail and passenger facility north of Heathrow in order to create an integrated hub airport for the whole country.

“Heathrow is the UK’s only international hub airport. It is a key driver of the UK’s economic competitiveness and is responsible for around 1% of UK GDP. Heathrow is an important UK asset. No other UK airport can achieve such geographic connectivity and Gatwick’s claims for an additional runway are without merit: Gatwick doesn’t have the transport connections or geographic advantages that make Heathrow so accessible to the whole country. Heathrow is where the airlines want to be.”

“Our proposal is not only politically deliverable, but politically desirable.”

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport’s CEO, said: “The Commission will have to consider a range of factors in making their final decision. Their report today indicates why expansion at Gatwick best answers all the questions. It can give the country two world class airports.

“The UK gets the economic benefit it needs at a fraction of the environmental impact of Heathrow today. It would mean competition and lower fares for passengers. We have a financing plan and a construction project that can be delivered without huge risk to the public purse.”

And in a final comment, which will be echoed by all sides of the argument, Mr Wingate said: “After decades of indecision, the UK needs something to happen”. Whether any decision will actually be taken following the Commission’s final report next summer will rest with the next Government. What is clear from the Commission’s work so far is that the stakes are high. It is to be hoped that the next Government has the courage to take a decision and implement it.

The consultation will close on 3 February 2015.

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