Your article (Thames estuary ‘very worst spot’ for an airport, says air traffic chief, 14 April) rightly points out that there are significant air traffic management difficulties if a “Foster’s Folly” or a “Boris Island” are considered. But in it Richard Deakin, the Nats chief executive, also conceded that these might not be a showstopper, quoting him thus, “technically anything is possible”. Clearly Mr Deakin likes a challenge. So here’s another.
Mr Deakin is also quoted as saying that, from an air traffic control point of view, “the single biggest thing we could do to reduce CO2 in the UK is to build a third runway at Heathrow“. Nats’ own analysis paints a lurid picture of allegedly wasteful CO2 emissions, 600 tonnes a day, from aircraft stacking over London while waiting to land at Heathrow. These figures are increasingly used to justify a third runway. However, in 2010, Heathrow flights emitted 18.9m tonnes of CO2, so delays – which may or may not be due to stacking per se – contribute just 1.16% of the total.
Heathrow’s 480,000 movement limit is currently being handled safely and efficiently with a reasonably acceptable CO2 emissions performance when put into context – Nats, BAA and all those airlines using the airport seem to do a pretty good environmentally efficient job, in what is very congested airspace.
Those who are trying to use 219,000 tonnes of “wasted” CO2 out of a total of over 18 million as a lever for a third runway need some maths revision lessons – and quickly. A new 2,200m runway would grow capacity from today’s 480,000 annual limit to 700,000, a 46% increase in movements. Perhaps Mr Deakin could let us all know how much more CO2 this would mean in practice?
Aviation Environment Federation