Heathrow Third Runway: Q&A

As the debate intensifies over whether to build a third runway at Heathrow, David Millward, The Daily Telegraph Transport Editor looks at some of the questions surrounding airport expansion.

By David Milward, Transport Editor

Where do the parties stand?

Currently all three parties are officially opposed to building a third runway. But there are rumblings from senior Labour and Conservative MPs that the policy is a huge mistake and the third runway should be back on the agenda.

What is the argument in favour of a third runway?

Heathrow is full and is rapidly being outstripped by continental rivals. It has no capacity to put on new flights to emerging markets, primarily China.

What would a third runway cost?

BAA’s original proposals, which were ruled out when the Coalition won office, would have cost around £10 billion.

What is the argument against a third runway?

Opponents say it would lead to more noise and environmental damage from the additional flights the third runway would generate.

Residents near Heathrow are concerned a third runway would increase

Are there other problems with the third runway?

Yes. It would be shorter than the existing two and would be unable to handle larger aircraft such as the Airbus A380.

What are the alternatives?

Additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted. But the Coalition has also ruled this out. In any case a second runway cannot be considered at Gatwick until 2019, because of a legal agreement between West Sussex County Council and BAA, the former owner of the airport. Creating a second hub airport in the South East would also prove difficult.

An illustration of how ‘Boris Island’ may look

Why not build a new airport?

That is the solution favoured by Boris Johnson, London’s mayor and, it is suggested, by some senior Government ministers. But a new airport would be a long time away and not solve the short term problems faced by the aviation industry. It would also entail huge investment in infrastructure beyond the airport itself including roads, hospitals and schools to support the workforce. Major airlines remain unenthusiastic.

Where would a new airport be?

The likeliest site for the project dubbed “Boris Island” would be in the Thames Estuary, near the Isle of Grain.

What are the advantages?

There is plenty of space for a four runway hub which, supporters say, would meet Britain’s needs for decades and make it possible for the country to compete with Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

Then why not build it?

Opponents say there are a huge number of problems from the danger of bird strike, which would see flocks of birds crippling aircraft engines, to the presence of the SS Richard Montgomery, an American World War 2 Liberty ship which is not only packed with unexploded ordnance, but is also becoming more unstable. Crticis also believe it is on the wrong side of London to serve much of the country and a new hub in Kent would kill off Heathrow.

Sourced by The Telegraph

 

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