Third Heathrow runway 'unbuildable'

Published: Thursday 7th December 17

Councils opposed to expansion at Heathrow have told the Transport Select Committee that the most recent evidence published by the Government continues to demonstrate that a third runway could not be built at the airport without causing unacceptable air and noise pollution.

They say that if ministers continue to support a third runway it will blight the area around the airport while failing to solve the need for extra airport capacity in the South East.

The latest evidence which has been published as part of the Government’s revised National Policy Statement (NPS) fails to show how an expanded airport could meet air quality limits in an area where pollution levels are deteriorating. This makes a third Heathrow runway unbuildable while expansion at Gatwick could go ahead without this risk.

Councillor Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said:

“Given the hurdles that would have to be overcome it is clear that a third Heathrow runway is not deliverable within the new timescale of an opening in 2026. The shorter the timescale the more likely that illegal air pollution will result.

“If there is a need for more capacity in the South East it can built more quickly at Gatwick. It would be achieved at a lower cost and within lawful pollution limits with fewer people affected by noise. It would also offer more domestic routes than Heathrow.”

The councils say that despite the new third runway opening date of 2026 and the projected rapid increase in early passenger demand, the targets set for increased public transport share remain set at 2030 and 2040. In these circumstances increased air pollution from road traffic is inevitable.

The councils have also warned the TSC that the Government’s refusal to allow more time for the new evidence produced for the revised NPS to be analysed supports the view that the Secretary of State has effectively made up his mind to support Heathrow and that this is affecting the fairness of the consultation.

The councils also warn that other parts of the UK could have to pay huge sums for the increased investment in rail projects around the airport. Currently the Government is offering no information on what the costs of improved surface access will be, what proportion of the cost will be met by the taxpayer and whether they will be completed on time.

The submission to the Transport Select Committee has been complied by Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils. You can read the full submission on the TSC website.

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Recent comments

When I last examined the details of expansion at Heathrow, amazingly no one had revealed where the new flight paths would be. Nor the proposals for the existing flight paths. These yet to be decided or revealed proposals really need to be made public.

8 December 2017

Let us hope sanity prevails. Heathrow will never achieve acceptable air and noise pollution levels; it will substantially exceed the quoted budget price; it will open well after the estimated date due to planning hold up, demonstrations and engineering problems Plus it will not be as economically favourable to UK Ltd as Gatwick despite counter arguments from Heathrow. Gatwick can start very quickly, will cost far less, has good and improving rail links to central London, good access to the M'way roads and can be finished on time. Let's get on with it now rather than this interminable delay.

8 December 2017