Heathrow reveals expansion proposals

r3 south west planHeathrow has put forward three options for a third runway, which could be expanded to include a fourth, as their proposals to the Davies Commission.

The Airport is submitting its new runway options to the Airports Commission today.  They say they will deliver the long term hub capacity and connections to growth that the UK needs.

They say their submission follows a rigorous assessment of a wide range of options and is a new approach to increasing capacity at Heathrow, balancing the country’s need for international connections to emerging markets with the impact on local communities.

Heathrow are putting forward three options to add a third runway at Heathrow: a North West option, a South West option, and a Northern option. They believe the westerly options offer clear advantages, delivering a full length third runway, and a lesser noise/compulsory purchase impact on local communities, despite costing more, and taking longer to build.

How a four runway Heathrow could look

How a four runway Heathrow could look

While they say a third runway will deliver the hub capacity the UK needs for the foreseeable future, they also show how their options would allow a fourth runway to be added should it be required.

At the same time, they are making ten commitments that set out what Britain can expect from a third runway at Heathrow and which, they say, show the difference between their new proposals and those of the past.

The two westerly options are certainly different from the old, shorter third runway proposed by BAA and approved by the last Labour Government. Each would raise the capacity at Heathrow to 740,000 flights a year (from the current limit of 480,000). That, say Heathrow, would provide capacity at the UK’s hub airport for the foreseeable future.

Heathrow maintain that they are the best location for the UK’s hub airport. They are also keen to point out that while all their suggested options deliver more flights, they also reduce the total number of people exposed to high levels of noise, and could operate within climate and air quality limits.

They echo comments from airlines that expanding Heathrow, being a lower cost option than building a new airport from scratch with all the connecting infrastructure that would entail, would mean lower fares as, ultimately, the cost of any new airport would be likely to be passed on to passengers in higher fares caused by landing fees set with the aim of recouping the investment.

Heathrow say they offer the fastest, most cost effective and most practical route to the hub capacity the UK needs, with the options deliverable by 2025-2029, and for £14-18bn – some way short of the cost of an estuary solution estimated at anything up to £80bn.

Colin Matthews, Heathrow’s chief executive, said, “After half a century of vigorous debate but little action, it is clear the UK desperately needs a single hub airport with the capacity to provide the links to emerging economies which can boost UK jobs, GDP and trade. It is clear that the best solution for taxpayers, passengers and business is to build on the strength we already have at Heathrow. Today we are showing how that vision can be achieved whilst keeping the impact on local residents to an absolute minimum.”

Heathrow say a third runway would provide benefits to the UK worth £100bn present value, well in excess of the benefits from Crossrail or HS2, both of which have required public money.

The options at Heathrow would benefit from already planned public transport improvements, such as Crossrail, Western Rail Access and High Speed 2, so the charges per passenger would be likely to be much lower than at a new hub airport, where investment in surface access infrastructure would probably need to be recovered from airport trading activity.

Importantly, Heathrow say the westerly options would reduce the noise burden on Londoners – a key point in the Mayor of London’s arguments for a new hub elsewhere. Despite the increase in capacity, the total number of people affected by noise from aircraft should fall. This is due in part to the westerly options being positioned further from London than the existing runways. Each mile the runway is moved to the west puts arriving aircraft approximately 300ft higher over London. Continued improvements in aircraft and air traffic technology should also result in fewer people being disturbed. As a result, even with a third runway there should be 10-20% fewer people within Heathrow’s noise footprint in 2030 than today.

See Heathrow’s submission here.

Boris Johnson submitted his proposals yesterday, which did not include expansion at Heathrow. Hounslow Council are opposed to the closure of Heathrow, they do not support it’s expansion.

Hillingdon Council are resolutely opposed, with the Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, saying: “This is the same old elephant in a new pair of trousers. Every council leader in London regardless of political party agrees that Heathrow Airport is not suitable for further expansion and no amount of media or business hype can change that fact.”

“This country needs a new four-runway hub airport and it should not take another two and a half years to come to that conclusion. It is a pity that we do not have more senior politicians in this country with the vision and foresight of Boris Johnson.”

Heathrow’s ten commitments, should R3 be permitted:

  1. Connect Britain to economic growth, by enabling airlines to add new flights to fast growing markets
  2. Connect the UK’s nations and regions to global markets by working with airlines and Government to deliver better air and rail links
  3. Protect 114,000 local jobs and create tens of thousands more nationwide
  4. Build more quickly, and at lower cost to taxpayers, than building a new airport from scratch elsewhere
  5. Reduce aircraft noise so that  fewer people are affected by noise than today
  6. Lessen noise impacts for people under flight-paths by delivering periods of respite, and noise insulation for those in high-noise areas
  7. Treat those most affected by a third runway fairly by ensuring compensation greater than market value is offered to anyone whose home needs to be purchased
  8. Keep CO2 emissions within UK climate change targets
  9. Increase the number of passengers using public transport to access Heathrow from 40% today, to over 50%
  10. Reduce delays and disruption by further improving Heathrow’s resilience
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