Boris moots Heathrow congestion charge

Mayor of London, and Uxbridge MP, Boris Johnson has said that a congestion charging zone could be brought in around Heathrow Airport if the Davies Commission recommends expansion.

The Mayor still favours building a new hub in the Thames Estuary despite it being ruled out by the Airports Commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies, which is due to issue its recommendation on expanding aviation capacity any time now.

Boris suggested the C-Charge in an interview with LBC. It’s something that the Airport themselves have discussed before.

There is much speculation about the effect of the General Election result on the likelihood of expansion at Heathrow. Chancellor George Osborne is believed to be in favour of a bigger Heathrow, while others in the cabinet favour Gatwick. Boris himself has a role in the Political Cabinet, but it is unclear how much involvement this would have in deciding to go with the Davies recommendation.

Boris repeated his belief that Heathrow is “undeliverable” in his interview, while the Airport believe the opposite, and cite support from business – members of London First, an influential group of large businesses have come out resoundingly in favour of Heathrow expansion – and general support from UK regions evidenced by their partnerships with six of Britain’s city regions as reasons why expansion at Heathrow would enjoy the support of most of the UK, just not all of those who live immediately around it.

The SNP, with their new found power base, are understood to be likely to encourage rapid adoption of whatever Sir Howard suggests, their major concern being connections for Glasgow and Edinburgh to the rest of the World. It’s possible that other election results – notably the defeat of Vince Cable, a noted Heathrow opponent, might increase the political deliverability of R3, although his nemesis – new Tory MP Tania Mathias – says on her website she is opposed to Heathrow expansion.

Boris said in his LBC interview that he hoped Sir Howard Davies’ report wuld be shelved. That would be the biggest tragedy of all for business. It is generally accepted that the UK needs more capacity around London to avoid losing inward investment and economic growth to France, Holland and Germany. Jobs nationally would be at risk if this happened, not just around our airports.

Meanwhile, the Davies Commission has asked for feedback on recently published air quality documents. WHen it published its interim report, it said would supplement the then high level air quality modelling with more detailed “dispersion modelling” to provide
greater assurance about the air quality implication of each of the three proposals they were reviewing.

The dispersion modelling has in most cases confirmed the Commission’s earlier
analysis, but in some resulted in a slightly different outcome. The
further work has found differences between the two options at Heathrow – a North West runway, and extending an existing runway – relating to performance against EU limit values which were not apparent from the analysis presented for consultation.

They acknowledge that EU limits may be exceeded at a small number of monitoring sites as a result of each of the proposals for expansion at Heathrow but with the extent of the exceedance and the level of challenge associated without mitigation now different for the
two schemes – the maximum predicted annual mean NO2 concentration with the additional North West runway would be 34.7 µg/m3, while that for the extended north runway would be 37.2 µg/m3.

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