Boris writes to all MPs and Peers to say 3rd runway at Heathrow ‘will fail on every level’

London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, a potential successor to PM David Cameron, said a 3rd Heathrow runway was doomed to fail, complicating an already fraught issue for the government. The Airports Commission said the runway would offer Britain the best way of adding long-haul routes to new markets that it said were “urgently required”. But Boris said the report itself showed a Heathrow runway would not solve capacity issues, and its own figures indicate it would lead to fewer domestic routes and very little increase in new long haul routes.  “Their report very clearly shows that a third runway will fail both London and the UK on every level.” Boris and Justine Greening have sent a dossier to about 1,500 MPs and Peers setting out the flaws in the Commission’s report. They say the runway would harm attempts by George Osborne, Johnson’s leadership rival, to build a “northern powerhouse”.  Boris still wants a new airport in the Thames estuary, that was rejected by the Commission. He said: “The Airports Commission has spent several years in the production of a gigantic ball of wool that they are now attempting to pull over the eyes of the nation.” 


New runway at Heathrow ‘will fail on every level’, says London Mayor

7.9.2015  (Reuters)

Badges and beer mats, protesting at the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport, are seen inside a pub in the village of Harmondsworth, adjacent to Heathrow,  July 1, 2015.
Reuters/Peter Nicholls

London’s mayor, a potential successor to British Prime Minister David Cameron, said a proposal to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport was doomed to fail, complicating an already fraught issue for the government.

In July, after a three-year study, the Airports Commission recommended Heathrow as the best option for an additional runway over two other shortlisted airports, arguing this offered Britain the best way of adding long-haul routes to new markets that it said were “urgently required”.

But Boris Johnson, a long-standing critic of the plans, said on Monday the report itself showed that the proposal would not solve capacity issues.

“The figures teased out of their report on the fall in domestic and even long-haul connectivity show that as a nation, by expanding Heathrow, we would merely be investing in decline,” he said in a statement.

“Their report very clearly shows that a third runway will fail both London and the UK on every level.”

Johnson, who re-entered parliament at national elections in May, has sent a dossier to lawmakers pulling apart the report’s recommendations, according to a statement from his office. He raised questions over noise pollution data and the number of night flights, both key concerns for residents living under flight paths.

He instead suggested building a new airport in the Thames Estuary to the east of London, a proposal known colloquially in Britain as “Boris Island”.

Cameron said in July that he would make a final decision on the 23 billion pound plan by the end of the year but the government is likely to anger supporters with whatever choice it makes.

The prime minister is in a difficult spot after pledging to voters before the 2010 election that first brought him to power that he would not allow a third runway at Heathrow, “no ifs, no buts”.

Johnson is one of several high-profile Conservative lawmakers who oppose the move and is tipped by many in the press to succeed Cameron, who has ruled out serving a third term as prime minister.

Heathrow’s largest shareholder is Spanish infrastructure firm Ferrovial.



Also story in the Sunday Times (££)

Boris warns Heathrow report flawed

BORIS JOHNSON and Justine Greening have launched an outspoken attack on plans to expand Heathrow, warning that a third runway would reduce the number of destinations served by Britain’s hub airport.

The mayor of London and Greening, the international development secretary, have joined forces to complain that the recent report from the Airports Commission was flawed.

………… full story at



See also:


Airports Commission report shows fewer, not more, links to regional airports by 2030 with 3rd Heathrow runway

The Times reports that analysis by Transport for London (TfL) of the Airports Commission’s final report shows that, with a 3rd runway, Heathrow would only serve 4 domestic destinations by 2030, compared to the 7 is now serves. It would serve only 3 with no new runway by 2030. (The Gatwick figures are 7 domestic destinations by 2030 with a 2nd runway, compared to 10 now). Heathrow has been claiming that its runway will be important for better links to the regions, and improved domestic connectivity by air. The Heathrow runway has been backed by Peter Robinson, the first minister of Northern Ireland, Derek Mackay, the Scottish transport minister, and Louise Ellman, the chairwoman of the transport select committee – on the grounds that it would help the regions. The Commission’s report says: (Page 313) “15.8 ….without specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future….” The Commission cannot see effective ways to ensure domestic links are not cut in future, as less profitable than long haul, but they suggest public subsidy by the taxpayer for these routes. This is by using PSO (Public Service Obligations) which could cost £ millions, is a bad use of public money, and may fall foul of EU law.

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The whole objective of expanding Heathrow was, in theory, to answer this basic question. So it is amazing to find that the Davies solution fails the very test he sets, failing to connect us abroad – and even at home.

Heathrow expansion has been explicitly sold to MPs as a way of helping links between London and the rest of the UK. But look at what Davies is forecasting. The number of UK connections goes not up but DOWN, from seven to four. I am not sure that they are aware of this in Scotland or Northern Ireland indeed in the Northern Powerhouse. Some British cities will be bitterly disappointed not to gain the promised links, and some will actually lose. And how many more long-haul destinations will we get? All of – wait for it – seven! By 2030.

The traffic would be so bad that we would need a new congestion charge in west London

There is absolutely no hope, on this plan, of catching up with our European rivals, let alone Dubai or any of the rapidly growing airports of Asia or America. You might wonder how this can be. How can we be so incompetent as to expand Heathrow, and produce such a pitiful increase in connectivity?

The answer is simple lack of capacity, combined with the constraints that Sir Howard has been obliged to place on his solution. In the hope of restricting the very serious increase in noise pollution, he has been forced to call for a partial ban on night flights. This would reduce Heathrow’s existing connections with Hong Kong, Singapore and China, and deter low-cost carriers whose business model needs early morning and late evening flights – and all this for a night flight “ban” that would actually increase the number of nocturnal noise victims by 33 per cent.

You might say the obvious solution to this capacity crunch is to build not just a third but a fourth runway. And yet this option, of course, is explicitly ruled out. A fourth runway would cause such an inferno of noise and pollution in west London that Sir Howard calls, preposterously, for a legal “ban” on the very idea.

What a new runway at Heathrow might look like (Graphic: PA)

Now people may take these “bans” – on night flights and a fourth runway – with a pinch of salt. Heathrow Airport itself doesn’t accept them. It may be that these are more fingers-crossed promises, and that the whole exercise is fundamentally dishonest. But we must take Sir Howard at his word. In which case we would get a third runway that won’t perceptibly increase British links with the rest of the world, and that contrives to REDUCE domestic links, and with no possibility of further expansion.

This would be achieved at colossal and so far unacknowledged expense to the taxpayer. The bill for the third runway is currently put at £22.6 billion, including £5 billion for surface access. As Willie Walsh has been making clear, there is no way the airlines (mainly BA) are going to pay. The transport costs, says Transport for London, are nearer £15-20 billion. The whole bill is probably above £40 billion to the public purse. And the environmental damage is massive – another 250,000 people afflicted by noise pollution, taking the total to one million. No other society is contemplating such a step backwards.

Even on Sir Howard’s wildly over-optimistic figures, there would be another 28,000 people suffering noise of over 70 decibels. That is horrendously loud. Then there is the damage to air quality in London. This legal obstacle is so serious that the Davies report bizarrely proposes that we should build the runway – and then only use it if we can clean up the air.

As Sir Howard says, the traffic would be so bad that we would need a new congestion charge in west London; and all this misery for a solution that will be obsolete as soon as it is built.

If the Government wants to be long-termist it should go for the truly long- term solution, a four-runway hub, and the logical place is in the Thames estuary. The GDP growth unleashed would dwarf Heathrow, with 50 per cent more routes overall, double the number of domestic routes, to say nothing of the huge scope for much-needed housing and regeneration. That is what the Government should do – to stick with its principled stance, to keep its explicit manifesto promise.

This is the time to ignore the pleas of the largely foreign owners of Heathrow, and to back a solution that is better for hundreds of thousands of local people, better for the economy, and better for British business as well.!/2015/08/02/a-third-runway-at-heathrow-would-be-a-huge-mistake/