A third runway should be built at Heathrow, according to a new report released today by the Airports Commission.
According the the report, a new northwest runway at Heathrow would not increase noise above current levels, generate up to £147bn in economic growth over 60 years and create 70,000 new jobs by 2050.
It is expected that the addition of the runway would add regular daily services from the airport to around 40 new destinations, including 10 to 12 new long-haul flights.
Sir Howard Davies, the commission chair, said: “Over the past two-and-a-half years, the Airports Commission has reviewed the evidence without preconceptions, consulted widely, and followed an inclusive and integrated process. At the end of this extensive work programme our conclusions are clear and unanimous: the best answer is to expand Heathrow’s capacity through a new northwest runway.
“Heathrow is best-placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets. It provides the greatest benefits for business passengers, freight operators and the broader economy.”
However the report has revived intense debate over the runway’s environmental impact, and the report said that stringent measures would need to be met to limit the impact on those living nearby.
These conditions include a ban on night flights, a commitment to no fourth runway, and legal commitments on noise and air control.
The report, which is expected to renew political debate, comes five years after the government cancelled plans for a third runway at the UK’s biggest airport.
Davies added that the government needs to review the analysis carefully but not to prolong the process as further delay would be “increasingly costly and will be seen, nationally and internationally, as a sign that the UK is unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected, open trading economy in the 21st Century”.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), has welcomed the report. Speaking at yesterday’s 2015 Hospitality & Tourism Summit she said: “We have run out of time for further debate on where we increase our airport capacity, a vital component to sustaining the growth the hospitality and tourism industry is contributing to the UK economy.
“Politics has delayed this decision for long enough and now we call on the government to take decisive action and tell us when construction will begin to build additional runway capacity.”
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Heathrow’s third runway: the conditions
- A ban on all scheduled night flights in the period from 11.30pm to 6.00am, which is only possible with expansion
- No fourth runway: the government should make a firm commitment in parliament not to expand the airport further – there is no sound operational or environmental case for a fourth runway at Heathrow
- A legally binding ‘noise envelope’ putting firm limits on the level of noise created by the airport
- A new aviation noise levy to fund an expanded programme of mitigation, including noise insulation for homes, schools and other community facilities
- A legal commitment on air quality that new capacity will only be released when it is clear that compliance with EU limits will not be delayed
- A community engagement board, under an independent chair, with real influence over spending on mitigation and compensation and over the airport’s operations
- An independent aviation noise authority, with a statutory right to be consulted on flight paths and other operating procedures at all UK airports
- Provision of training opportunities and apprenticeships for local people, so that nearby communities benefit from the jobs and economic opportunities