Report by Mayor of London on runway issue: Boris pushes strongly for 4-runway hub in Thames estuary (or Stansted)
Boris Johnson, due to leave office as Mayor of London in early May, has delivered a blistering attack on a 3rd Heathrow runway – and put forward, again, his vision of a huge 4-runway hub airport in the inner Thames Estuary (“Boris Island”). The Airports Commission’s imperfect report came down definitively backing a Heathrow runway, and ruled out the estuary option for a range of geographical, cost and environmental reasons. Boris says, in a report entitled “Landing The Right Airport“, that a four-runway airport east of London is the only way to secure enough capacity. His other option is Stansted. He believes these sites “away from populated areas” were the “only credible solution”. Daniel Moylan, Boris’s aviation adviser, said the inner Thames estuary airport would cost £20bn to £25bn – with an extra £25bn required to building road and rail connections. He said the 3rd Heathrow runway is estimated to cost £18.6bn, not taking into account the cost of surface access and measures to stop congestion, which the new report claims could be as high as £20bn. The report concludes: “As part of its next phase of work, it is incumbent on Government to revisit the entire Airports Commission process and consider a full range of credible options – including alternative hub locations. A failure to do so will undermine any attempt to bring forward a National Policy Statement and leave a decision vulnerable to legal challenge.
Boris Johnson refloats Thames Estuary airport plan
Boris Johnson wants an airport hub built in the Thames Estuary or Stansted to be expanded
Boris Johnson has refloated the idea of an island airport as an alternative to a third runway at Heathrow.
Plans to create a hub airport in the Thames Estuary were rejected by the Airports Commission (AC) in 2014.
In a report entitled Landing The Right Airport, the mayor says a four-runway airport east of London is the only way to secure enough capacity.
Opponents previously described “Boris Island” as “financially, geographically and environmentally wrong”.
‘Only credible solution’
“If we are to secure the connectivity we need to support our future growth and prosperity and do so without dire impacts on public health – then we must do better than Heathrow,” Mr Johnson said.
Building an airport at one of two locations in the Thames Estuary or expanding Stansted in Essex “away from populated areas” was the “only credible solution”, according to the Mayor of London.
In his forward to the 78-page document, he added: “Each could accommodate the four-runway hub that London and the UK needs.
“Our analysis predicts that they would offer around double the number of long haul and domestic destinations served by Heathrow today, while exposing 95% fewer people to significant aircraft noise.
“A four-runway hub to the east of London, rather than jarring with the growth of London will support it, catalysing regeneration and housing to the east.”
In July, the AC recommended building a new runway at Heathrow rather than providing a second runway at Gatwick.
But it did not completely rule out another runway at Gatwick or doubling an existing runway at Heathrow.
The government has delayed its decision on airport expansion in the South East until the summer at the earliest, saying more work needed to be done on the potential environmental impact.
In September 2014, Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the commission, said the cost, economic disruption and environmental issues made the Thames Estuary airport plan unviable.
Daniel Moylan, aviation adviser to Mr Johnson, said a hub airport to the east of London would cost £20bn to £25bn – with an extra £25bn required to building road and rail connections.
Constructing a third runway at Heathrow is estimated to cost £18.6bn, but Mr Moylan said that did not take into account the amount of money needed on surface access and measures to stop congestion, which the new report claims could be as high as £20bn.
The report’s conclusion says:
Conclusion and next steps
“It is clear from the Airports Commission evidence presented that Heathrow expansion is wrong for the economy and wrong for the environment. It neither provides the connectivity the UK needs, nor is it able to avoid dire impacts on public health, whether the hundreds of thousands exposed to significant aircraft noise, or the risk to legal limits for NO2. It places considerable pressure on already congested surface access networks, which would require significant interventions if they are to function effectively.
Gatwick expansion is at best a stop gap. Its environmental impacts are lower, but not serving as a hub, its connectivity is more limited and it will not offer the wide range of long haul routes that a hub can offer. It also requires more surface access capacity if extra demand is to be accommodated on already crowded routes.
If we are to secure the connectivity that meets the UK’s long-term economic need, then the only option is a four-runway hub. The Inner Thames Estuary and Stansted, located to the east of London, away from densely populated areas, are each able to deliver that connectivity whilst absolutely minimising the local noise and air quality pollution impacts. A mixture of new, planned and existing surface access infrastructure would ensure fast, reliable access and help unlock key development and regeneration sites along the corridor.
In December 2015, the Government rightly recognised that it did not have robust evidence to be in a position to take forward expansion of Heathrow. This is no surprise: Heathrow expansion remains environmentally and politically undeliverable. As part of its next phase of work, it is incumbent on Government to revisit the entire Airports Commission process and consider a full range of credible options – including alternative hub locations. A failure to do so will undermine any attempt to bring forward a National Policy Statement and leave a decision vulnerable to legal challenge.
The Government has a critical responsibility: in making a decision, it will set the parameters for the UK’s ability to export goods and services and attract investment and tourism for decades to come. No longer should we be detained by a solution which does not even answer the basic question, the need for a step-change in connectivity, not to mention its disastrous consequences for public health. We need a hub airport that can fully connect the UK to the world, support UK growth and prosperity and deliver benefits for generations to come.”
The Mayor of London’s website says:
The Mayor proposed three potential sites for locating a new four-runway hub, each to the east of London, away from heavily populated areas:
- Inner Thames Estuary (Isle of Grain)
- Outer Thames Estuary
Find out more about the relative merits of these five expansion options in the ‘Landing the right airport’ report on the Aviation page in Publications & reports.
On that page you can also read the full range of Mayoral submissions as well as a number of accompanying detailed technical reports.
Mayor reveals the astonishing cost to public health of Heathrow
A new report published by the Mayor of London has revealed the astonishing cost to the health of Londoners of a third runway at Heathrow. Despite the owners’ bold claims about the potential of improved technology and quieter engines, building a new runway would fail to curtail the effect of the din of jet engines on local people. In fact it would unnecessarily expose 124 more schools and 43,000 school children to a level of aircraft noise proven to affect their level of reading and memory, than if the airport were to remain with two runways.
The report also reveals that the long term health effects of exposure to the extra noise caused by a third runway would be valued at a staggering £20 to 25bn over 60 years.
Today (20 March) the Mayor said that there was no silver bullet for Heathrow’s noise nightmare and that the only credible solution to Britain’s aviation dilemma was to pursue plans for a new hub airport to the east of the capital, away from populated areas.
In his new report: ‘Landing the right airport’, the Mayor’s team set out the overwhelming case against the expansion of Heathrow – and the logic behind building a four-runway hub to the east of London. Key points made included:
· All sides agree, at least half a million people will be exposed to a significant level of noise from a third runway – more than the five main rival European airports combined. And if flight routing is not optimised then that figure reaches nearer one million people.
· An analysis of evidence provided by the Airports Commission reveals that on a like-for-like basis a third runway would expose 124 more schools and 43,200 more schoolchildren to an unacceptable level of noise compared to no expansion.
· Guidance published by the Department for Transport in December has allowed the Mayor’s team to calculate the health impact of an expanded Heathrow as costing £20 to £25bn over 60 years. That reflects the increased risk of heart attack, stroke, dementia and other disorders shown to be linked to prolonged exposure to aircraft noise.
· A third runway will mean more than double the number of surface access journeys to and from the airport – and in order to keep the numbers on the road manageable, the Commission’s own consultants propose that an airport access charge of £20 to £40 for every car/taxi could be needed. That would in turn mean the number of public transport journeys to and from the airport would jump from around 80,000 a day now to over 300,000 a day. That scale of demand could not be accommodated without major unbudgeted investment in rail infrastructure.
· An expansion at Heathrow would require the airport to triple its debt and equity levels. That would be an unprecedented level of debt for a private airport and the Government would almost certainly need to step in to secure their funding.
· The Airports Commission’s own data reveals a three-runway Heathrow would be full in 2030 and subject to the same problems of congestion and delays that the airport faces today – and with little improvement in connectivity that UK business so clearly needs.
· Only a four-runway hub airport in one of several potential locations to the east of London has any chance of being built and delivering the increase in connectivity the UK requires. A hub to the east of London would spur regeneration and new housing, contribute £92bn to the UK economy by 2050 and support 336,000 jobs around the country.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “There is no silver bullet for the noise nightmare of a third runway at Heathrow and any approval of expansion would clearly result in decades of legal challenges. Its cramped urban location simply cannot accommodate the kind of airport this country requires to compete on the global stage and the cost to the taxpayer of necessary road and rail connections would be huge, however well disguised. That means the Government has a bold decision to make – but not a difficult one. They must surely finally recognise that the only long term vision that sustains our economy and safeguards our health is to build a four runway hub airport at the Thames Estuary or Stansted.”
Today’s report also made it clear that a second runway at Gatwick would not be the answer to the UK’s aviation problems. It has already benefited from the constraints at Heathrow and offers useful links to overseas hubs and holiday destinations. But even the Airports Commission belatedly recognised that the delivery of a hub airport must be the aim. A second runway at Gatwick would not give us that hub.
In December 2015 the Government rightly recognised that it did not have the evidence to be able to justify an expansion of Heathrow. The Mayor is now calling on them to consider the full range of credible alternatives. They will need to face down the vested interests who are set on an expansion of Heathrow that is not in the national interest. But he is clear that in order to secure the connectivity needed to support future growth and prosperity, and without a dire impact on public health, we must do better than Heathrow.
Notes to editors
· The ‘Landing the right airport’ report is available at: www.tfl.gov.uk/aviation
· Heathrow Airport is owned by Alinda Capital Partners (United States), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (via Britannia Airport Partners) (Canada), CIC International (via Stable Investment Corporation) (China), Ferrovial Group (Spain), GIC Special Investments (via Baker Street Investment) (Singapore), Qatar Holdings (Qatar) and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (UK).
· A two runway Heathrow in 2050, with potential future technology improvements and flight routing optimisation would expose 272 schools to an excess level of noise [TfL’s “Alternative Future Baseline]. A three runway Heathrow in 2050, with potential future technology improvements and flight routing optimisation would expose 396 schools to an excess level of noise [Commission’s “Minimise Total”). Background on the level of aircraft noise proven to affect pupils level of reading and memory available from: Clark C, Stansfeld SA, Head J, 2010, The long-term effects of aircraft noise exposure on children’s cognition: Findings from the UK RANCH follow-up study.
· The DfT ‘WebTAG’ valuation of noise, which was used to calculate a cost of £20 to 25bn over 60 years, is intended to capture the cost imposed on society by the public health impacts of noise pollution resulting from a transport scheme. It includes the loss of amenity (due to sleep disturbance and annoyance) and worsening health (heart attacks, stroke and dementia) – based on perceived willingness to pay for increased longevity and quality of life.