BAA refuses to rule out fourth Heathrow runway and a seventh terminal

23.1.2008     (Times)

BAA, Britain’s biggest airport company, signalled yesterday that a fourth runway
and a seventh terminal could be needed eventually at Heathrow.   The Spanish-owned
company is to open a fifth terminal at the West London airport in March and is
planning to build a third runway and sixth terminal by 2020.   It had previously
indicated that this would be the limit of the airport’s expansion.

However, Stephen Nelson, BAA’s chief executive, refused yesterday to rule out
further growth, saying that he did not want to make promises that the company
might have to break.

Two possible locations for a 4th runway would be north of the airport alongside
the M4 or south of the existing runways on land that is occupied currently by
the villages of Bedfont and Stanwell.   Both options would require the demolition
of thousands of homes.

Appearing before the London Assembly, Mr Nelson was asked whether he was saying
that there could be a fourth runway and seventh terminal. He replied: "It would
be inappropriate for me to speculate on whether there would be a further case
for expansion beyond 2030." He said he did not want to give "hostages to fortune"
by saying that the third runway would be the last big expansion.

Mr Nelson admitted that, 12 years ago BAA had given public assurances that proved
to be false, saying that a third runway would not be needed.

In 1995 BAA stated in its official newsletter: "BAA has said repeatedly that Terminal
5 will not lead to a third runway.

BAA has said repeatedly THERE WILL NOT BE A THIRD RUNWAY.   And BAA has been proved right. The Secretary of State has accepted the BAA
view. The issue has been settled; people’s concerns have been met. What now of
those who claimed BAA was not telling the truth?"

In 2001 BAA and the Government accepted the recommendation of the planning inspector
who approved Terminal 5 that the number of flights at Heathrow should be capped
at 480,000. However, despite those BAA assurances in 1995, ministers now support
a third runway and a plan was published in November that would increase the capacity
to 702,000 flights.

The third runway. although shorter than the other two, is to be built on land
currently occupied by the villages of Sipson and Harmondsworth.

Current growth trends suggest that the third runway will be full long before
2030 and Heathrow will once again face losing market share to airports on the
Continent. Schiphol, near Amsterdam, has five runways and Paris Charles de Gaulle
has four.

John Stewart, chairman of   HACAN (the Heathrow Association for the Control of
Aircraft Noise), said: "After making so many false promises in the past, BAA has
decided to be honest about the fact that it is keeping its options open for further

"But this means thousands more homes will be blighted by uncertainty. We fear
that they will first lengthen the third runway and then build a fourth. The time
has come to say enough is enough."

A spokesman for the Department for Transport (DfT) declined to say whether the
Government would support expansion beyond the third runway.

Mike Tuffrey, the leader of the Lib Dems on the London Assembly, said that BAA
and the DfT had "broken a catalogue of promises".

Comments in “Have your say”:

The goverment seems still in bed with BAA, although I hoped this would end with
the Spanish takeover.

Heathrow is one of 5 London airports and the worst located one because dominant
westerly winds force aircrafts to approach over the Capital -a health hazard to
over 2 millions people and as the BA038 crash-landing shown, a huge safety risk
as well.

It’s time to either think about a new airport in the Thames estuary or develop
Stanstead, Gatwick and Luton.

Ludovic Windsor,, UK


It is good news that they are determined to build a 4th runway before the 3rd
is even built, because it means we are right to oppose ALL their expansion plans,
BAA ride roughshod over everybody, and soon we will have planes landing on the
goddam M4 if the Spaniards have their way. It was once promised that a 5th terminal
would never be built. The writing is on the wall everybody. City Airport is perfect
for business people. We certainly do not need Heathrow. Transit passengers who
do not get off the plane, and that is a majority at Heathrow, can land anywhere
in the world.

pam, London, England


Some years back we had a plane crash on the Medes. A few seconds further on &
it would have ploughed into a densely populated area. All on board died. This
should have been a wake up call, but how many MP’s who would grant compulsory
purchase orders even remember this crash?

A few days ago a plane scraped the boundary fence after passing over densely
populated areas & a very busy road & crashed. A 2nd wake up call, yet
BA still want to destroy more homes and communities, & make lives miserable
for even more people. We do not have the airspace for BA to almost double the
number of flights nor the infrastructure to cope with extra ground traffic. The
MP’s should stand out near Heathrow for 24 hours and watch the planes circling
over densely populated areas.. At night you can see them coming in right on top
of each other. How many near misses haven’t we been told about? The nearest A&E
to Heathrow has been closed too!

Where are the Heathrow workers going to live?

Beryl, Windsor, England



“The Two Faces of BAA”

A report from AirportWatch in February 2006 was a devastating indictment of BAA,
revealing the harsh reality behind the responsible and green image that BAA tries
to cultivate.     BAA is planning new runways at Stansted, Heathrow, Edinburgh and
possibly Gatwick and Glasgow, as well as an increase in flights at Southampton
and Aberdeen, where, last year, it introduced night flights.   The report compares
the image BAA tries to present at each of its seven UK airports with the actual
effect its expansion plans will have on the residents and the local environment,
as well as BAA’s close links with Government.
  The Two Faces of BAA (PDF 1397Kb)   (Feb 2006)