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Aug 17 2016 0

Heathrow’s controversial third runway

Heathrow airport is the third busiest airport in the world after Atlanta in the US and Beijing, China.  In 2015 the airport handled 75 million passengers.  Heathrow employs 76,000 people within the airport boundary and everyday 1,400 flights take off and leave which equates to one every 45 seconds, almost half a million a year!

In June 2015 it was announced that plans were to start being put into place for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.  Whether you are in favour, against the proposal, or maybe un-decided here are a few key facts about the controversial proposal.

The below discusses two main points (cost and environmental effect) against building the third runway.

The plan to build the new 3,500m runway has been estimated at a cost of £18.6bn.  Who will be paying for this, well the money to build the runway will mostly be paid for privately but there is no doubt that as UK tax payers we will all pick up some of the cost for the additional infrastructure.  It has been estimated that this total could be in the region of £5.7bn.  You then have to consider the impact on the cost of the airfares.  To pay for this work the airport will undoubtedly have to charge the airlines more to land which may lead to passengers seeing an extra cost on the flight prices.

From an environmental point of view there obviously will be an increase in both noise and air pollution should the third runway go ahead.  Friends of the Earth campaigner Jenny Bates says: “The overall business case for further expansion of our airports is just not convincing, as it is not compatible with meeting our climate change targets.”  HACAN ClearSkies have said on the matter that, “The noise impact of a third runway would be unacceptable.  According to the EU, 725,000 people live under the Heathrow flight path; that is, astonishingly, 28% of all people impacted by noise right across Europe.  A new runway would add around another 150,000 people affected by the proposed flight path.

So how about the reasons to go ahead with the proposal.

Without increasing airport capacity, the UK will lose out on business competitiveness and tourism. Lack of airport capacity is often cited as a constraint on expanding UK business. Heathrow is the quickest option to build a world class hub airport.

With already good existing transport links to Heathrow the extension is seen as a cost effective way to create additional capacity which will connect Britain to 40 new destinations and increase long haul destination which would open doors to new market opportunities which in turn will only have a positive effect on our UK economy.

Heathrow have stated that there could be a possible 40,000 extra local jobs created by the expansion to the airport.  As one of the UK’s largest single-site employers they are focussing on apprenticeships and have estimated the figures to double to 10,000 by 2030.  There are five boroughs surrounding Heathrow (Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Slough and Spelthorne) where youth unemployment counts for a third of total unemployment.  Should the expansion go ahead it has been said that it could potentially end the youth unemployment for all five boroughs.

The question therefore is do you feel that the third proposed third runway at Heathrow should go ahead?  No doubt this will be a hot discussion topic for many before any decision is made. However one thing is for sure it will have an impact either way on those that live in the surrounding area and those that work at Heathrow airport and even closer to home – the logistics industry.

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