London Assembly opens airport capacity investigation

heathrow planeThe London Assembly’s Transport Committee today for views and evidence as it launched an investigation into airport capacity.

Entering the topical debate for and against changes to existing capacity, its work will identify issues that it thinks the Government’s independent Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, should take into account when considering the options for airport expansion.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson and many others believe London’s airports need additional capacity for economic reasons, as forecasts say full capacity will be reached by 2030 if no changes are made. A call for additional airport capacity has been made by a range of business and aviation groups.

Numerous ideas have been put forward since the Airport Commission commenced. The GLA says its investigation will look into some of the options for London in detail. These include utilising existing airport capacity better, building a third runway at Heathrow, adding additional runways at Stansted or Gatwick, creating regional hubs and developing a Thames estuary airport.

The likelihood of the GLA supporting Heathrow seems remote at present. Boris has opposed the concept consistently, and ealrier in the year the Assembly clarified its continuing opposition to the construction of a third runway.

However, Heathrow has support from many, especially from the business lobby. Indeed a survey by Lookwest showed it as the most popular option among west London businesses and residents.

Chair of the Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon AM, said:   “As the debate rages on about the best solution to London’s airport capacity needs, the Assembly’s new investigation aims to examine the existing capacity and use of London’s airports as well as requirements, both in the short and long term.

“We will consider issues such as aviation demand, cost and transport links in order to assess the viability of the numerous options. By collecting evidence to feed into the Government’s Airports Commission, our investigation aims to give a clearer picture of the direction in which London’s aviation policy could go.”

The Committee will hold two public meetings with experts as part of its investigation on 15 January and 6 February 2013 and produce its findings by May 2013. It is accepting written submission until 28 February 2013. The final report will be submitted to the Airports Commission in May 2013.


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