Hounslow Council has said it does not want to see Heathrow close, but still opposes any further expansion of capacity.
Speaking about the ongoing mixed-mode trials, where both existing runways are used for more of the day giving a 10% lift in capacity without further runways, Hounslow’s deputy leader Cllr Colin Ellar said: “We don’t want to lose Heathrow from the area entirely – that would be devastating for our local economy. We just think a better not a bigger Heathrow is the solution.”
Many observers think if a hub airport is built elsewhere then Heathrow will inevitably decline. Indeed some of the plans for building a new hub involve using funding from the closure and redevelopment of the Heathrow site as new homes. With one in five west London jobs existing because of the airport, and many more predicated on employers’ location decisions based on international connections, closure could be an obvious economic disaster for the sub-region.
Of a rumour that the mixed-mode proposals were to be dropped by the airport, Councillor Colin Ellar said: “If this concession is actually just a strategy to keep the third runway on the agenda, it will only succeed in uniting communities around the airport who are opposed to expansion still further.”
The council’s key objection to mixed-mode, or any expansion, is noise. Proponents of expansion arue that the noise burden will decrease as more efficient, quieter aircraft come into use.
Cllr Ellar’s suggestion for capacity expansion is to make the airport more efficient, and to fill the empty seats on inbound aircraft. Whether this would allow new routes from emerging economies – another key constraint for existing Heathrow – is disputed.
He said that increased efficiency during the Olympics with record passenger numbers showed that “an efficient Heathrow is a better Heathrow and an extra third or fourth runway is simply not necessary. A better Heathrow does not mean a bigger Heathrow.”
Lookwest is hosting an event on March 4 designed to inform about the debate. It seeks to explore the issue of whether a constrained Heathrow could survive if a new UK hub airport were built elsewhere. It is free to attend for qualifying delegates. Book here.