Transport Committee calls for third and fourth runway at Heathrow
MPs on the Transport Committee have today rejected calls for a new hub airport east of London and urged the Government to permit the expansion of Heathrow where, it says, a third – AND fourth – runway is long overdue.
Launching the report of an inquiry that examined the UK Government’s Aviation Strategy, Louise Ellman, Chair of the House of Commons’ Transport Committee dismissed building an entirely new hub airport east of London on the basis of cost, its impact on wildlife in the Thames estuary, and the impact on Heathrow. She said:
“The viability of an estuary hub airport would also require the closure of Heathrow – a course of action that would have unacceptable consequences for individuals, businesses in the vicinity of the existing airport and the local economy.”
The committee has also ruled out expanding Gatwick as a means of solving hub capacity, while encouraging Gatwick’s operator to develop a robust business case for a second runway.
“We reject the notion of linking existing airports by high-speed rail to form a split-hub; the outcome from this would be highly uncompetitive in terms of passenger transfer times compared to competitor hubs overseas.”
The Transport Committee’s robust call for consideration of two additional runways follows a host of submissions to the Airports Commission in recent weeks backing the expansion of Heathrow. In October a leading think tank, Police Exchange, suggested a new four-runway airport should be built to the west of Heathrow which would cover parts of Colnbrook and Poyle. Cllr James Walsh at the time said such a proposal “would make the village unfeasible”.
“Heathrow – the UK’s only hub airport – has been short of capacity for a decade and is currently operating at full capacity. We conclude that a third runway at Heathrow is necessary, but also suggest that a four-runway proposal may have merit, especially if expanding to locate two new runways westwards from the current site could curb the noise experienced by people affected under the flight path.
In addition to throwing its weight behind Heathrow expansion, the Committee also recommends establishing a national scheme to ensure adequate compensation for people affected by noise from expansion at Heathrow.
Despite ruling out Gatwick, it has asked the Government to ensure that HS2 rail is extended to serve Heathrow and that dedicated rail services to serve Gatwick and Stansted are developed.
The Transport Committee is charged by the House of Commons with scrutiny of the Department for Transport. Its formal remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Transport and its associated public bodies. The Committee is made up of eleven Members of Parliament, appointed by the House of Commons and drawn from the three largest political parties. It has no formal influence over Government policy.
The Airports Commission set up by the Government is expected to report in 2015.