Sir Howard Davies has said he is 70% pecent confident that a third runway will be built at Heathrow – in bookmakers parlance, a short odds-on favourite at around 2:1 on.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, the man who led the Government review of aviation capacity said he would put the likelihood that he will see a third runway built at Heathrow “in his lifetime” at seven out of 10 despite the current climate of political uncertainty.
He explains further that this is a more optimistic position than when David Cameron was Prime Minister, when he said he was only 30% confident.
It is felt that the biggest obstacle now to expanding Heathrow is air quality, something which is largely caused by surface traffic – in the main diesel cars – travelling to and from the Airport, and on the M4 and M25 nearby.
In the interview he says that the EU limits on air quality can be met after expansion with advances in aircraft technology and measures designed to counter road congestion, including a possible £15 charge – perhaps more for diesel cars – for all drivers accessing the airport.
It is accepted that the levels of Nitrogen Dioxide in particular in air across the whole city are unacceptable, and that measures need to be taken to bring them down, and reduce the harm to health that it causes. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, is proposing new extra charges for diesel vehicles to enter the central London Congestion Charging Zone, so such a charge would not be new or unique. In effect it would simply be another tax on those arriving and departing passengers who choose to use taxis or private cars rather than public transport, and in that snese, would probably be accepted fairly widely.
If it worked, and encouraged more people on to public transport, the benefits would be large, including reduced journey times for non-airport traffic on the roads around Heathrow.