Heathrow expansion

The government’s announcement that in principle it backs the idea of a new runway at Heathrow is likely to lead to a Parliamentary debate and vote soon.

I would be interested to hear constituents’ views on this topic.

I have always accepted the general need for more airport capacity in the greater London region, but have not concluded on how this could be best achieved. Some think Gatwick could be expanded rather than Heathrow, some have argued for an entirely new airport to the east of London, some for incremental increases in capacity at a range of south eastern airports.

The government has concluded in favour of Heathrow expansion as the current hub airport with plenty of additional demand for slots and routes. The statement was brief and left many details to be sorted out a later date. Those seeking to expand the airport will need to demonstrate how they will hit demanding environmental targets. They will need full planning permission which will doubtless be a long and complex task to secure, with scope for people affected to seek changes or improvements to any individual proposal. The government and proposers of Heathrow expansion will need to strengthen and improve transport links into the airport, as these are already under pressure from present levels of air traffic.

I have lobbied extensively about the present level of aircraft noise, which increased following changes to routes made without consultation by NATs in 2014. The Statement did say that they wish to reduce aircraft noise, and propose to ban night flights for six and a half hours every night. The work I am doing on reducing aircraft noise does not require airport expansion to go ahead, as it relates to noise of aircraft, flying styles, rates of climb and descent and other matters. I will continue to press for less noise whatever the outcome of the vote about whether to build a new runway in several years time.




  1. Aaron Shone
    June 5, 2018

    Hi John, why not withold your support for Heathrow expansion until aircraft noise in the Wokingham area is abated? If NATS can’t sort out the noise with an incentive, and with current traffic, I can’t imagine the quality of life for Wokingham residents is going to get better with 50% more traffic flying overhead.
    That said, I would prefer a slightly more pragmatic compromise, like Heathrow primerilly for passengers, Gatwick for cargo, Luton for cheap flights etc.

  2. alan jutson
    June 5, 2018

    Too much concentration on Heathrow for my liking.

    Poor weather or security problems and you close down a huge slice of our air capacity.

    I would have gone for another runway at Gatwick, quicker and cheaper to build, and in addittion a new airport in/on the Thames Estuary.
    Then you have transport access to London from all directions to spread the load, and you would avoid having to overfly London.

    So my view, after 25 years of messing about, they have now reached the wrong decision, and by the time this third runway is built, you will be starved of airport capacity and will be needing yet another new airport.

  3. John Barleycorn
    June 5, 2018

    As a constituent, I cautiously welcome the proposed expansion but think you are absolutely right that transport links need to be improved. Heathrow contributes significantly to delays on the M4 and M25 so the airport must deliver on its pledges to reduce car journeys to it.

    The 3rd runway should deliver extra capacity, rather than working to its limits. This would allow better control of noise and ensure that bad weather doesn’t lead to delays and cancellations for days.

    Expanding Gatwick would cause very similar traffic issues to expanding Heathrow, because the M25 South-East quadrant is already at capacity and in need of widening. It’s on the wrong side of London for most of the UK with poor rail links to anywhere other than London. In contrast, expanding other UK airports, including Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton and East Midlands would help reduce congestion in the South East.

  4. Adam
    June 5, 2018

    Expanding airports stimulates demand for use, which increases the nuisances that are better avoided.

    Rationing or justifying each passenger flight by need would reduce thoughtless over-use. Hopping on a plane has become something to do on a whim, without concern of wider consequences.

    Video conferencing with holographic presentations might help prevent business waste. Telephones are more efficient than air travel used just to speak to a few people.

    1. David L
      June 6, 2018

      I quite agree, Adam, but many business people I know seem to take it as a given that meeting clients face to face is the only way. Besides, a few days away from a family home may be desirable for some. My late father-in-law spent years jetting around the world for meetings and he hated it. Especially when he had a heart-attack while disembarking at Heathrow after a hurried and brief meeting in NY. In retirement, and with poor health, he often wondered if it had all been worth it.
      If the railways ever get sorted maybe the need for so many internal flights could reduce.

  5. Narrow Shoulders
    June 6, 2018

    I am unconvinced by the need to expand our airports. Aircraft are getting bigger and flying further so the hub argument is moot.

    If there is indeed a need for additional capacity then Heathrow is the obvious choice. Heathrow should pay for expanded links from London (M 25 and M4 plus Piccalilly line, overground and buses). If it can’t then there is no business case for this expansion.

    I speak as someone less than 2 miles from Heathrow and commend the plan to extend one of the runways rather than building an extra one.

  6. ChrisShalford
    June 6, 2018

    I feel there should be more analysis about whether the world will need hub style airports in the future or whether virtually all flights will be direct. This very much affects whether the UK needs one massive airport or several big ones spread across the country.

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