· A longer runway, not a third runway
· Our scheme designed to be politically and socially acceptable
· 94% of MPs think the airport’s decision should be taken in national interest
The Extended Northern Runway plan for Heathrow was, from its inception, designed to be politically and socially acceptable. It is clear that those opposed to a third runway at Heathrow are now campaigning under a “No ifs, no buts” slogan, throwing an original commitment by the Prime Minister in 2010 back at him. We offer a sensible way forward in the interests of the entire country. In a recent poll, 94% of MPs questioned believe the Government should make the decision on airport expansion in the national interest.
The independent Heathrow Hub scheme provides the required additional capacity with the minimum disruption and at the lowest feasible cost. It is a long runway, not a third runway and avoids bringing new areas into aircraft noise contours. It also eliminates the need to destroy local villages and important facilities such as the Lakeside Energy from Waste Plant, the Home Office’s immigration removal centres, and BA’s headquarters.
As decision time approaches, the focus of both the debate and associated publicity has highlighted the very factors that differentiate the Extended Runway from other plans. The scheme is simple, innovative and can be built more cheaply than the alternative. The construction can be in distinct phases, matching expansion with demand, reducing risk and enabling the Government to ensure noise and emissions targets are met. We continue to advocate the elimination of night quota flights before 6am.
Meanwhile the inadequacies of the case for Gatwick expansion have been exposed. There has been no convincing economic argument made to overturn the Commission’s principal judgement that the greatest benefits to the entire UK would be delivered by expanding Heathrow as opposed to Gatwick. Surface transport improvements to Gatwick would be prohibitively expensive and in any case the two businesses are in completely different leagues. Heathrow has substantially higher passenger numbers and assets, with more than six times the passenger revenue of Gatwick’s.
The benefits of the extended runway, which extends the existing northern runway to 6,800 metres and divides it into two with a 650m safety zone, are:
– Cost. The cost is estimated at up to £6bn lower than the Heathrow Airport Ltd plan meaning that there will be ample headroom to finance surface infrastructure and local compensation and mitigation policies. The major airlines of the U.K. also have been vocal in the need to protect consumers from unnecessarily large costs or by pre funding.
– Noise. Another crucial issue. The Extended Runway proposal would reduce the extent of the noise contours and bring in no new areas. It is estimated that 240,000 people would be removed from the current 54decibel noise envelope.
– Less disruption. The scheme would only require the relocation of 242 houses as opposed to at least 783 with the third runway plan. Major facilities such as the Energy from Waste plant and the Immigration Centres will be untouched.
– Air Quality. These targets must and will be met. An enhanced, fit for purpose, surface access plan has been devised which will assist greatly in meeting air quality limits.
Jock Lowe, Director of Heathrow Hub, said: “While Heathrow and Gatwick have been vocal attacking each other in the press, we have been quietly getting on liaising with the Department for Transport, which is reviewing all three options shortlisted by the Airports Commission. Our objective has always been to deliver a proposal which is politically realistic for the Government of the day and I believe we are making good progress. We have therefore written to the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet to ask that our scheme, and not HAL’s third runway, is taken to the next stage of consultation as the common sense solution to this important national problem. We can help Mr Cameron and indeed everybody else opposed to a third runway to keep their word.”