Comments by members of NCE expressing opposition to its pro-Heathrow runway line
The New Civil Engineer magazine is very much in favour of building infrastructure of all sorts (predictably) including a Heathrow runway. Some responses on the NCE website, from members, are interesting. These include: ….” the editor rightly says that the elephant in the room is climate change and that the £1bn annual cost of flooding is similar to the cost of not having another runway at Heathrow. However, the benefit of a 3rd runway is purely speculative, whereas the cost of flooding is almost bound to rise.” … “The editor is telling us ‘we must support Heathrow’ and those who do not believe in this third runway project are “cynics”. Well, my engineering background has taught me to question and be rational, considering all aspects of schemes including the environmental and human aspects.” …. “[we are asked to] “come together to support a shared set of goals” and “get behind Armitt and support his work.”” The writer mentions Heathrow noise, air pollution and traffic problems, and says: “The scheme is being pushed by big business, but opposed by most of the locally elected democratic representatives. On a practical operating point, how can this world class airport operate with night flying restrictions, or will those be overturned too?” He is not renewing his NCE membership, due to its position on Heathrow, Hinckley and HS2.
Your view | More Heathrow challenges
6 JANUARY, 2017 (New Civil Engineer)
Below are comments by NCE members on the Heathrow issue:
“In the December 2016 issue of New Civil Engineer, which highlighted our role in fighting floods, the editor rightly says that the elephant in the room is climate change and that the £1bn annual cost of flooding is similar to the cost of not having another runway at Heathrow.
However, the benefit of a third runway is purely speculative, whereas the cost of flooding is almost bound to rise.
Moreover, the roundtable on airports headed “Can we deliver sustainable airports?”, states that airlines intend to cut carbon by creating forests or funding carbon reductions elsewhere. How many trees have airlines planted to date? As global warming is causing forest fires as well as floods, increasing flights may have dire consequences – an ethical dilemma for engineers who will be glad of the work entailed in building a third runway.”
Richard Bloore (M) email@example.com
“I was perturbed to read both the Comment and Lighthouse in the December 2016 New Civil Engineer. The editor is telling us “we must support Heathrow” and those who do not believe in this third runway project are “cynics”. Well, my engineering background has taught me to question and be rational, considering all aspects of schemes including the environmental and human aspects.
In a similar vein, Lighthouse talks about Heathrow, Hinkley and High Speed 2, and tells us to “come together to support a shared set of goals” and “get behind Armitt and support his work”.
The Heathrow area is already overheated; the M25 has five often stationary lanes of traffic in each direction, other roads are frequently severely congested, the area is already over the air pollution thresholds, killing and adversely affecting the health of many, and noise pollution is adversely affecting thousands of residents.
The scheme is being pushed by big business, but opposed by most of the locally elected democratic representatives. On a practical operating point, how can this world class airport operate with night flying restrictions, or will those be overturned too?
Regarding Hinkley, do we want to tie in doubled electricity costs with foreign-owned companies, and also have design and financial control by a country which has been far from an ally? There was a chance to have an exemplar energy scheme with wind, solar and tidal power on the same site, at probably a fraction of the cost and with none of the controlling restraints.
I feel alienated by New Civil Engineer and the ICE’s positions on these subjects, and so will not be renewing my membership. My subscriptions may be better spent supporting more environmentally sound organisations.”
John Lee (M) firstname.lastname@example.org
“It is difficult to believe that our profession appears to be supporting the architectural fancy being promoted for Heathrow. It is a wart of an airport outside an airport.
The concept is impractical strategically, technically, operationally and financially. I do not need vast studies to support this position based on my experience of being charged with creating the concepts for Maplin, Terminal 4, North Terminal Gatwick, Stansted and Terminal 5. The perpetually overlooked answer has always been Stansted. I lay myself open to Parliamentary or any other challenge. Meanwhile the national interest is suffering and the planning blight is cruel because of the delay in finding a solution to the immediate and long term need.
H Pageot (F) Posted online on article headed “New Heathrow runway gets government approval” The suggestion that the major airports could be joined together by high speed rail connections was dismissed by the editor on the grounds that they are in different ownerships
This has no validity. Companies frequently act in concert if they find it to be of mutual benefit. Early in the third runway discussion, spokespersons were heard being almost contemptuous in their dismissal of building the new runway at Gatwick and linking it by high speed railway to Heathrow, to create a four runway hub. At High Speed 1 speeds, this would take about 17 minutes. The dismissals of this idea, previously dubbed Heathwick, were doubtless made for narrow commercial interests rather than the national interest.
A serious examination of what appears to be a good solution would be interesting.”
Ken Bowman (M) email@example.com
On 2nd December 2016 the Editor, Mark Hansford, wrote:
We must focus on technology
This autumn has been a fairly momentous one for the British construction industry.
Three major government announcements about major infrastructure projects had already been given a big boost and now the Autumn Statement has offered further encouragement.
The three big decisions of course concerned Hinkley Point C, Heathrow and now High Speed 2. Sceptics could argue that all three projects have hurdles to overcome before we see shovels in the ground. But all three projects are talking very assertively about cracking on. That’s great news for the industry.
….. and it continues ….
Cynics will say it will never happen. But the soundings from those in charge are resoundingly that it will. And that is a very strong start. Of course, the cynic would say, you’d expect that. But then that cynic would be pointed at the £11bn of investment Heathrow has already made over the last decade, in Terminal 5, Terminal 2 and various other projects besides. This is not an organisation that rests on its laurels. Given the chance to invest and to grow, it invests – and it grows.
So we could be cynical. Or we could also be positive. We could really get behind it and back it. And we must, because it’s going to need that support.
Because the government could easily lose interest in all this. With Brexit discussions looming, frankly it’s got bigger things to worry about. So we, as in industry, must support Heathrow and make sure government’s commitment does not wane. Don’t give it the excuse that the project is not ready to go; that we haven’t solved the conundrum of whether to put the M25 in tunnel or put the runway on a bridge; that we haven’t dealt with the air pollution issue (magnified this month by the High Court’s ruling that government’s plans nationally do not go far enough); that we haven’t dealt with the surface access issue (because there is no denying it, from anywhere other than central London, Heathrow is difficult to get to by public transport).
And let’s be clear: we do need to crack this. The government’s own figures show that the cost to the economy of doing nothing to boost runway capacity is in the region of £50bn to £65bn over the next 60 years. It’s a pressing investment case.
But let’s also be clear: there are many more things equally demanding of our time and energies. Because while Heathrow has dominated the news – and important though it is – it really isn’t our biggest infrastructure priority. That’s according to the National Needs Assessment, the ICE-led, 15-month study into the UK’s infrastructure needs between now and 2050.
….. and it continues ….