Commons Transport Committee wants a 3rd Heathrow runway + perhaps later a 4th runway
The House of Commons Transport Committee gathered evidence on airport capacity at the end of 2012, to submit to the Airports Commission. They have now produced their report “Aviation Strategy” in which they say they reject “calls for a new hub airport east of London and urge the Government to permit the expansion of Heathrow where a 3rd runway is long overdue.” Its Chairman, Lousie Ellman, said “We recognise that demand for air travel across the UK is forecast to grow, believe that aviation should be permitted to expand and accept that more capacity is necessary to accommodate sustainable aviation growth.” Also “We conclude that a 3rd runway at Heathrow is necessary, but also suggest that a 4-runway proposal may have merit, especially if expanding to locate 2 new runways westwards from the current site could curb the noise experienced by people affected under the flight path.” It mentions establishing “a national scheme to ensure adequate compensation for people affected by noise from expansion at Heathrow.” The report also want HS2 to go to Heathrow; better rail links to Gatwick and Stansted; advantages for regional airports; and reassessment of APD and its effects (which demonstrates how much industry lobbying has influenced the report). HACAN said the Committee’s report was predictable.
Transport Committee calls for expansion at Heathrow
Launching the report of an inquiry that examined the UK Government’s Aviation Strategy, Louise Ellman, Chair of the House of Commons’ Transport Committee said:
“Aviation is vital to our economy and it is essential for the UK to maintain its status with an international aviation hub offering connectivity to a wide range of destinations across the globe.
“We recognise that demand for air travel across the UK is forecast to grow, believe that aviation should be permitted to expand and accept that more capacity is necessary to accommodate sustainable aviation growth.
“We looked closely at the three main options by which the UK could increase its hub airport capacity. Research we commissioned made plain that building an entirely new hub airport east of London could not be done without huge public investment in new ground transport infrastructure.
“Evidence to our inquiry also showed a substantial potential impact on wildlife habitat in the Thames estuary.
“The viability of an estuary hub airport would also require the closure of Heathrow – a course of action that would have unacceptable consequences for individuals, businesses in the vicinity of the existing airport and the local economy.
“Heathrow – the UK’s only hub airport – has been short of capacity for a decade and is currently operating at full capacity.
“We conclude that a third runway at Heathrow is necessary, but also suggest that a four-runway proposal may have merit, especially if expanding to locate two new runways westwards from the current site could curb the noise experienced by people affected under the flight path.
“We conclude that adding new runways to expand a number of other existing airports will not, on its own, provide a long-term solution to the hub capacity problem. We do however encourage Gatwick’s operator to develop a robust business case for their vision of a second runway.
“We reject the notion of linking existing airports by high-speed rail to form a split-hub; the outcome from this would be highly uncompetitive in terms of passenger transfer times compared to competitor hubs overseas.”
In other core findings the Committee calls on the Airports Commission to:
- Address concerns highlighted during the inquiry that current DfT long term aviation forecasts may not take sufficient account of factors – such as HS2 – likely to impact the UK economy.
- Assess the impact of introducing an unrestricted open skies policy outside the south east, to help airports in the regions secure new direct services.
The Committee likewise calls on the Government to:
- Establish a national scheme to ensure adequate compensation for people affected by noise from expansion at Heathrow.
- Develop a coherent national strategy to improve road and rail access sufficient to address significant problems that exist with surface transport connections to major UK airports.
- Ensure that the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail network serves Heathrow and develop dedicated rail services to serve Gatwick and Stansted.
- Take a more active role in promoting airports in regions outside the south east.
- Investigate whether it would be possible (under EU rules) to protect slots at Heathrow for feeder services from poorly served regions.
- Conduct and publish a fully costed study of how far Air Passenger Duty impacts on the UK economy and, if this provides clear evidence that the duty causes harm to the economy or government revenue, moves to significantly reduce or abolish APD.
- Carry out an objective analysis of the impacts of introducing differential rates of Air Passenger Duty.
- Introduce an APD tax holiday for a 12-month trial period for new services operating out of airports outside the south east.
The report’s concluding remarks:
Our concluding remarks (page 60 of report) Para 108 to 110
32. It is immensely disappointing that a decade after the publication of the 2003 White Paper and the then Government’s decision to support a third runway at Heathrow, the UK is still faced with the unresolved problem of aviation capacity. Following decades of policy papers, inquiries, taskforces, and commissions, it is the lack of a long-term cross-party political strategy for aviation that is principally to blame for the very real danger that the UK could lose its status as an international hub for aviation. (Paragraph 108) .
33. We have heard evidence from the main players in aviation and many other interested parties. We have found that there is a clear need for greater capacity at the UK’s hub airport. Our view is that a new hub airport should not be built at this time. A split hub is not a viable option. Although high speed rail connections within the UK and to the near continent, if properly connected to our main airports, present opportunities to achieve a modal shift from domestic and short-haul international flights, thereby releasing additional capacity for long-haul routes. A third runway at Heathrow is necessary to meet existing and future demand that can be reasonably predicted. Longer term, further work is required to assess whether further expansion at Heathrow, potentially via a new airport to the west of the current site, is required. We recommend that the Airports Commission obtains this information so that an evidence-based decision can be made. (Paragraph 109) .
34. It is less than ideal that the Airports Commission is working to a protracted timetable, with a final report not to be produced until after the 2015 General Election. We could complain that this is yet another example of important decisions on aviation being kicked into the long grass, but instead we challenge the Commission to use this opportunity to, once and for all, provide a robust and independent evidence base for future decisions. It is our hope that the Commission will produce an evidence base that is widely accepted across the political spectrum, and clear recommendations for action. The challenge for the post-2015 Government will be to quickly get to grips with the recommendations of the Airports Commission and not seek excuses for further delay. (Paragraph 110) .
Evidence given to the Committee for their report:
The written evidence to the Transport Committee can be seen at
and the transcripts of the oral evidence sessions can be seen at
Transport Select Committee’s call for a third runway at Heathrow branded ‘predictable’
Friday 10th May (HACAN)
The call by the Transport Select Committee for a third and possibly fourth runway at Heathrow has been branded by campaigners as ‘utterly predictable’.
John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said “This is an entirely predictable report from a committee which has always favoured expansion at Heathrow. The only difference this time is it thinks there might even be a case for two new runways. But its influence on the final decision is likely to be limited. That decision, which will not be taken until after the next General Election, will be much more influenced by voters’ distaste for a third runway than a predictable report from this committee.”
The report follows the publication on 9th May by the business lobby group, London First, of its evidence to the Airports Commission where it calls for the introduction of mixed-mode at Heathrow.
Mixed-mode would mean both runways were in use all day long. It would end the current practice where aircraft switch runways at 3pm to give residents in the worst-affected boroughs a half day’s break from the noise. Stewart said, “London First doesn’t seem to understand how much residents value their respite period. If it was taken away, there would be revolution even in Richmond.” www.hacan.org.uk .
Transport Committee Membership is as follows:
Mrs Louise Ellman (Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool Riverside) (Chair); Steve Baker (Conservative, Wycombe); Sarah Champion (Labour, Rotherham); Jim Dobbin (Labour/Co-operative, Heywood and Middleton); Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservative, Spelthorne); Karen Lumley (Conservative, Redditch); Karl McCartney (Conservative, Lincoln); Lucy Powell (Labour / Co-operative, Manchester Central); Adrian Sanders (Lib Dem, Torbay); Iain Stewart (Conservative, Milton Keynes South); Graham Stringer (Labour, Blackley and Broughton). .
. 10 May 2013 (BBC)
Thames airport ‘should be rejected’ – MPs report
Louise Ellman MP: Heathrow closure “would mean massive disruption and loss of jobs”.
The government should reject the “Boris Island” Thames Estuary airport plan and expand Heathrow instead, a report by MPs has said.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has argued for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary. warned it would be hugely expensive. The mayor insists London needs a new airport and the only possible place is east of London. But the report also warned the new airport could mean the closure of Heathrow and could harm estuary wildlife.
The MPs argue a third runway at Heathrow is necessary instead and even suggest a fourth runway might have merit.
A third runway is opposed by both residents and councils in west London. The committee said adding new runways to expand other existing airports was not a long-term solution.
Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman MP said: “Research we commissioned made plain that building an entirely new hub airport east of London could not be done without huge public investment in new ground transport infrastructure.
“Evidence to our inquiry also showed a substantial potential impact on wildlife habitat in the Thames Estuary. “The viability of an estuary hub airport would also require the closure of Heathrow – a course of action that would have unacceptable consequences.”
Mr Johnson said: “The committee is bang on the button in saying we need a proper hub airport. “But, by suggesting that Heathrow should double its runways from two to four, the committee is putting four fingers up to hundreds of thousands of Londoners.
“London and the wider UK do need a hub airport that can operate 24 hours a day without constraint and the only place that is possible is to the east of London.”
. A day earlier, there was this one, from “London First”: 9 May 2013 (BBC)
Heathrow flights should increase, business leaders say
Business leaders have called for an increase in flights at Heathrow Airport as a short-term solution “to the UK’s air capacity crisis”.
The London First members made their submission to the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission, which will make its final report to the government in the summer of 2015. They also recommended greater noise protection for Heathrow residents West London residents rallied two weeks ago to ward off expansion plans.
London First members also recommended Gatwick and Stansted Airports be freed from economic regulation by the Civil Aviation Authority. It said that, in the absence of any long-term strategy to build new runways, priority must be given to finding ways of increasing flights through more intensive use of existing runways.
Heathrow could support 10% more flights while reducing delays, it said, while Gatwick and Stansted could attract more airlines and passengers if existing price controls were abolished and the quality and capacity of rail services to both were improved. London First members include more than 200 firms from sectors including the banking and financial services to waste management.
Chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine said: “We face fierce global competition from rivals who are increasing their air links to new and established markets. “In the absence of a long-term plan for new runway capacity to meet that threat, we have no choice but to make the assets we have work more intensively.”
Heathrow is one of the world’s busiest airports, handling more than 69 million passengers a year. Last September, the government launched a review of how the UK might expand its airport capacity in the South East. Options include adding a third runway at Heathrow, adding a second runway at Gatwick and building a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
Hundreds of people gathered in Barnes, south-west London, on 27 April, arguing against increased flights from Heathrow because of noise blight. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-22464441 .
Commons Transport Committee shortly to hold inquiry into airport capacity – to report by summer 2013
September 12, 2012 The Commons’ Transport Committee will launch a major inquiry into aviation tomorrow – 13th September – pre-empting the interim results of the Government’s independent Davies Commission report on UK airports – which are expected by the end of 2013. The transport select committee is likely to reach a conclusion in 6 -9 months, so by early next year, on whether there is a need for more capacity, or as the Standard puts it ” on where a major London hub airport should be sited.” Boris will be invited to give evidence to the committee, as will Government ministers, airline chiefs, environmentalists and campaigners against airport expansion. The inquiry will also examine regional airports, passenger experience and APD. Click here to view full story… and
New research suggests a hub airport (eg. Thames estuary) for London cannot be built without public subsidy (? £ 30 billion)
January 25, 2013 A report by the economic consultants, Oxera, commissioned by the Commons Transport Committee has shown that a massive hub airport in the Thames estuary would only be viable if it had a subsidy, from UK taxpayers, of some £10 – 30 billion (in today’s money). Oxera looked at various scenarios, and found that otherwise such an airport would not be viable or provide the sorts of returns that a private investor would require. Depending on the airport’s design, it could cost £20 – £50 billion. The potential impact on Heathrow and other airports – and necessary compensation – were had to be taken into account, and would have an impact on a new hub airport’s commercial viability. Transport committee inquiry chairman Louise Ellman said: “The results suggest a new airport would require public investment and have considerable impact on Heathrow and other London airports. The research findings also shed significant light on the scale of investment required to deliver essential related surface transport links for any new airport. “We hope this work delivers something new to a crucial debate.” Click here to view full story… and
Gatwick and Heathrow attack each other in row over hub airport status, new runways and flights to Far East
December 3, 2012 Heathrow and Gatwick have given evidence to the Commons Transport Committee. Colin Matthews for Heathrow said Heathrow should be the single hub, and needs a 3rd runway. Stewart Wingate, Gatwick chief executive, said he would oppose a 3rd runway at Heathrow and wanted to see Gatwick develop as a competing hub airport. Gatwick announced plans to connect low-cost domestic and European flights to long-haul services, to the Far East or USA, with improved baggage transfer, to take on Heathow’s hub airport model. Mr Wingate also proposed London should be served by three 2-runway airports, with both Gatwick and Stansted getting an extra runway, instead of Heathrow getting a 3rd. He rejected suggestions that the South East was facing an airport crisis and said: “There’s a lot of capacity in the system. The challenge is how to make better use of it in the short term.” As well as representatives from the 4 main London airports giving evidence, there were also anti-expansion campaigners. EasyJet said “The importance of the hub airport has been massively overstated.” Click here to view full story…