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Heathrow 'needs to go further, faster'

airplane 2by3

MPs and campaigners have warned that Heathrow’s expansion pledges do not go far enough.

The West London airport’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye this week set out a series of measures to support its bid to be allowed a third runway.

These include waiting an extra hour until 5.30am before aircraft begin to land each day; allowing scrutiny of air quality measures; and creating a skills taskforce.

But Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh said: “Heathrow’s proposals to tackle air pollution need to go much further much faster.”

She called for cheaper fares on Heathrow Express train services to reduce the number of people driving to the airport.

The Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (Hacan) called for a longer ban on arriving flights.

“Hacan remains opposed to a third runway,” the campaign group said in a statement. “Our supporters to want a tougher night noise regime – we’ve long called for a ban on night flights before 6am – and more respite during the day but they don’t want to wait 10 years for a third runway to be built to get them.”

Gatwick is still fighting to be allowed a second runway.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive of the Sussex airport, said of the latest Heathrow proposals: “The public and politicians won’t be fooled by yet more warm words which have been heard for decades.

“Rather than circling around a failed solution that will never happen, we should get on with something that can actually happen – only Gatwick can deliver for the UK.”

The government-commissioned, Sir Howard Davies-led Airports Commission last summer recommended construction of a third runway at Heathrow.

Yet despite further backing for a quick approval of this plan, from MPs and contractors, ministers have put off a final decision until later this year.

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • In doing its best to appease environmental concerns by proposing a longer night time curfew for an expanded 3 runway airport, Heathrow Airport will reduce its future appeal to airlines who want less (not more) restrictions on when to schedule their long haul services. Flights from the Far-East already queue up to land at Heathrow after 4.30am and so extending the night curfew to 5.30am will be seen by airlines as a backwards step and will offer passengers less choice. The proposed night curfew will also make Heathrow less appealing to airfreight operators for whom night-time operations are fundamental to their overnight logistics business.

    Whilst a third runway at Heathrow might overcome some medium term capacity problems, the longer night time curfew would represent a tighter "straight-jacket" on its long term value to the UK. A more visionary long-term solution to the UK's aviation conundrum would be to build an airport somewhere that could allow unrestricted 24 hour operations. It's a pity that the Davies Commission dismissed such an option in the Thames Estuary too quickly on the grounds that it looked "too big and difficult".

    The UK needs to think bigger and bolder in planning its infrastructure for the long-term.

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