Expansion of UK Airport Capacity

Many British readers will have noticed the heavy advertising from rival groups trying to get the attention of the commission tasked with making a recommendation to government on the extension of airport capacity in the South-East of England.  This commission has been asked to make its recommendation after the forthcoming general election on May 7th.  Nonetheless leaks from the commission indicate that increasing capacity at Heathrow is the preferred option.

The claims made by the Heathrow Hub organization for the benefits to the British economy of their proposed extension of the North runway are extraordinarily fanciful.  Their advert in last Sunday’s national newspapers is that this scheme would give a gain of £214 billion to the economy annually.  This is about one eighth of the entire British economy which is an absurd claim.  If they mean a one-off gain spread over a period of years, then they should specify the period.  Likewise their claim of 164,200 new jobs begs the question as to how long the jobs are meant to last.  If they are supposed to be permanent, this equates to about £60 billion of added value per annum, or about two years’ predicted growth for the whole British economy in 2014 and 2015, an extravagant amount to claim for half a runway.

Apart from these claims the proposal to lengthen the North runway would entail building over the M25, close to the Queen Mary reservoir, over numerous road junctions, and extend the noise footprint even further westwards over Datchet and Windsor.  Totally mad and unnecessary when the option exists of building a brand new airport at Cliffe on the Thames Estuary, with the planned new town at Ebbsfleet close by, having a high-speed rail connection to Central London and the Continent, and all the labour required to build and staff a new international airport.

The question is why the Foster scheme for this concept has been virtually disregarded by the commission.  The Mayor of London is the only prominent political figure to support it.  Answers on a postcard please.

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One Response to “Expansion of UK Airport Capacity”

  1. Frederick May says:

    The most likely reason for not considering an alternative to a Heathrow extension is that so-called business leaders, i.e. about 20 CEOs and chairmen of the big FTSE companies have told Howard Davies (Chairman of the Heathrow Commission)off-the-record that they wouldn’t use it and would rather fly to Paris or Amsterdam as “their” hub airport. “They” don’t like the idea of Ebbsfleet/Cliffe because it’s “too far” from Central London, even though the underground CrossRail will extend to Abbey Wood – a mere 5 miles from Ebbsfleet.

    There is no reason to close Heathrow (as Boris Johnson seems to want). Rather Heathrow can continue to serve the Western hemisphere, with room to expand, while Ebbsfleet/Cliffe gradually builds up the long-haul Eastern hemisphere destinations and both can serve Europe. With similar traffic into and out of Tokyo, a similar split between the original international airport Haneda and the “new” one (1979- ) Narita has occurred, with Haneda serving the regions West and North of Japan and Narita East and South.

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