HACAN new briefing shows how a 3rd Heathrow runway will not deliver for the regions

Heathrow has made repeated claims that its 3rd runway would be essential for the UK economy, and indeed, that it would be a vital boost to the economies of the regions. HACAN has set out, in a short briefing and in a video, how the claims are not justified. In reality, another Heathrow runway would have negative impacts on regional airports – not to mention huge costs for taxpayers across the country.  HACAN says of Heathrow’s various promises that they are not guaranteed: ✈ Better connections are not guaranteed. ✈ Instead, ever more resources will be concentrated in London and the South East. ✈ Heathrow expansion may preclude aviation growth elsewhere. ✈ A 3rd Runway may be undeliverable.  The Airports Commission itself found that, rather than reversing the decline in domestic flights between Heathrow and the regions, these will fall (from 7 now to 4 with a 3rd runway) unless they are subsidised, which could breach EU regulations. Due the cap on UK aviation carbon emissions, if a Heathrow runway is built (and it has to be used extensively, largely for high carbon long-haul flights)it is likely to mean restriction of the growth of flights from regional airports.  A totally dominant Heathrow, eclipsing other UK airports, would make it difficult for long haul routes from the regions to be profitable. 


Briefing from HACAN at  

Booklet: “Heathrow 3rd Runway.   Will it really deliver for areas outside London and the South East?”

and short video

19.5.2016 Hacan video 1

19.5.2016 Hacan video 2

19.5.2016 Hacan video 3

19.5.2016 Hacan video 4

19.5.2016 Hacan video 5

19.5.2016 Hacan video 6

Heathrow 3rd Runway

“Will it really deliver for areas outside London and the South East?”

HACAN Briefing


Promises, but not Guarantees

Heathrow Airport has made plenty of promises to other regions about how a 3rd runway could boost their economies but there are very few guarantees.

Key issues:

✈ Better connections are not guaranteed
✈ Ever more resources will be concentrated in London and the South East
✈ Heathrow expansion may preclude growth elsewhere
✈ A 3rd Runway may be undeliverable

1. Better Connections are not guaranteed

Capacity constraints at Heathrow have seen the number of domestic connections at the airport decline in recent years. As a result there have been persistent calls from local authorities, elected representatives and businesses from across the UK for better links to Heathrow. Heathrow Airport has promised a third runway will reverse this decline. It may do so but it is far from guaranteed. According to the Airports Commission’s final report, the number of domestic destinations served by Heathrow will fall from 7 to 4 if a third runway is built, unless they are subsidised. This is because the new slots created by a third runway will be used by routes to more profitable overseas destinations.

The Commission’s report says: ‘without specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future than the seven served currently.’ The report spells out that ‘reserving’ slots for domestic routes is not an option as it would be in breach of EU regulations. Public Service Orders would be an option, but there are restrictions on which routes could qualify, and these would be entirely dependent upon the willingness of the UK Government to provide subsidies. Heathrow has recently made much of the fact the easyJet may come to Heathrow and create additional domestic slots but this is far from guaranteed. Gatwick, with a second runway, expects to continue to serve 7 or 8 domestic destinations.

“It is just plain wrong to say that only Heathrow can connect the UK to global growth, or that businesses in the UK’s regions need to fly through Heathrow to reach these markets. Manchester Airport is truly the international gateway for the North…..the north does not need another runway at Heathrow to connect to global markets.” Manchester Airport, CEO

2. Ever more resources would be concentrated in London

Heathrow Airport would pay for the cost of a new runway, but much of the cost of the associated road and rail infrastructure would fall on the UK. The Airports Commission estimated the road and rail costs at over £5 billion, though Transport for London (TfL) has put the broader transport infrastructure costs resulting from expansion at £15-£20 billion. However, Heathrow Airports Ltd has stated it is unwilling to contribute any more £1.1 billion. The rest of the cost would need to be met by taxpayers across the UK.

That’s yet more billions going to London and the South East. Money that could be spent in the rest of the country. On HS3 for example, across the North of England. Or on the electrification of the rail lines in North Wales.

3. Heathrow expansion may preclude growth elsewhere

The Airports Commission was clear that a third runway at Heathrow would reduce the scope for growth at other UK airports. There would not be the market for significant growth both at Heathrow and at other UK airports. The quarter of a million flights that would use a third runway at Heathrow would concentrate growth in the South East. Moreover, the Commission accepted that the climate change emissions from a third runway might also require growth to be curtailed elsewhere. Although one new runway at Heathrow would not, in itself, prevent the UK Government from meeting its climate change targets for aviation (CO2 to return to its 2005 levels by 2050), growth at other airports would potentially trigger some form of carbon tax in order to reduce demand in order to meet the CO2 targets. A 3rd runway could thereby necessitate limiting growth at other airports in the UK.

4. A 3rd Runway may be undeliverable

Because of the problems facing a third runway at Heathrow may be undeliverable.

• According to the European Commission over 725,000 live under the Heathrow flight paths (28% of all those impacted by aircraft noise in Europe); a 2-runway Gatwick would impact 35,000; Stansted even less.
• Heathrow is the only airport in the UK where air pollution exceeds the EU legal limits.
• Almost 4,000 homes might need to be acquired if a third runway was given the green light; 167 would be required for a second runway at Gatwick
• These problems have led to huge opposition to a 3rd runway. There’s no reason to believe this Government could succeed in building a 3rd runway where the last Labour Government failed.


HACAN gives a voice to residents under the Heathrow flight paths.
We can be contacted on info@hacan.org.uk; tel 020 7737 6641 www.hacan.org.uk


Briefing from HACAN at  

Booklet: “Heathrow 3rd Runway.   Will it really deliver for areas outside London and the South East?”

and short video