On 1st July the Airports Commission published its recommendation to government proposing a third runway northwest of the existing northern runway (the NWR option). The Commission favoured Heathrow on economic grounds but did not rule out Gatwick. It is now the government’s decision to take. While disappointed, Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC) believes a 3rd runway is undeliverable on economic and environmental grounds and we will actively challenge the recommendation and any decision by government to expand Heathrow.
The first NWR flight is planned for 2026 and the number of flights is expected to increase rapidly from the existing 480,000 flights a year to 740,000 flights so that by 2040 Heathrow would be full again and a 4th runway is likely to be sought.
RHC launched a separate website (rhcfacts.org) in June, distinct from its main site. Fact sheets on 8 topics and a summary covering Heathrow and its expansion can be viewed. The summary was circulated to all 650 MPs. Topics are the UK economy, financial deliverability, carbon emissions, air quality, noise, local economy, surface access and safety. The facts remain largely unchanged following the Commission’s recommendation.
We have significant doubts about the benefits to the wider UK economy, the material increase in the number of long-haul business passenger seats, the benefit of the large number of international transfer passengers using Heathrow as a hub and the cost/benefit analysis. These are four main reasons the Commission chose Heathrow.
According to TfL, the cost of adequate surface access is under-estimated by £15bn and there is significant risk that air quality standards will be breached and carbon targets exceeded.
HACAN London-wide Rally
Saturday 10th October
1.5 million people will be exposed to aircraft noise and over 300,000 for the first time. Blight from uncertain flight paths dispersed over London will endure for the foreseeable future. The recommendation comes with a number of “goodies” for local communities such as no night flights. But we have doubts these will be delivered.
The Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee has launched an inquiry on the ‘The Airports Commission Report: carbon emissions, air quality and noise’ to which RHC will respond. We are working to maximise the influence on the government’s future decision and our immediate efforts are directed at assessing the Commission’s report, a task we are sharing with a new organisation: Coalition against Heathrow Expansion.
The government’s decision process is just one of many involving the promoter, Heathrow Airport Ltd, the GLA, local authorities and many others. The planning process is key, starting with a National Policy Statement and ending with a Development Consent Order, all of which could take several years and involve several public consultations. The government has said it will make a decision by the end of the year and some indications are it could be in the autumn.
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign’s position is that expected future passenger demand can be met with predicted larger aircraft and by substantially reducing transfers at Heathrow, most of which neither increase the number of destinations served nor benefit the wider economy. No additional runways need be built.
In particular, we are opposed to any expansion at Heathrow, which would increase noise misery for many
in West London or blight new areas of the city. Instead, Heathrow’s operations
should be managed to meet existing national and international public health guidelines. This includes the
abolition of all night flights.
On 17th June, Zac Goldsmith MP launched a campaign to highlight the impact of new flightpaths that would result from the new runway at Heathrow. While no firm plans have been published, there is a high degree of certainty that are several areas of London would suffer aircraft noise for the first time.
If you have friends in Hammersmith, Chiswick and Brentford, please alert them to Zac’s campaign and direct them to its web page at heathrowflightpaths.co.uk. Why? Because with an additional runway at Heathrow, they would experience noise levels equivalent to those in Barnes, Mortlake, Richmond and Kew.