LONDON:The UK government's Airports Commission has recommended the construction of a new northwest runway at Heathrow by 2030, arguing a second runway at Gatwick would be more focused on short-haul intra-European routes with "considerably smaller" economic benefits.
The long-awaited report says a third Heathrow runway "will not increase noise above current levels, will generate up to £147 billion in GDP impacts over 60 years and over 70,000 new jobs by 2050, and will add regular daily services from the airport to around 40 new destinations, including 10-12 new long-haul routes".
Acknowledging Heathrow carries more freight by value than all other UK airports combined, the Commission urged the Conservative government to make a quick decision: "Further delay will be increasingly costly and will be seen, nationally and internationally, as a sign that the UK is unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected, open trading economy in the twenty-first century," it said.
Declaring its final solution for more air capacity in the south-east of England to 2040 "fundamentally different" from previous proposals, the Commission said a go-ahead should be predicated on the government agreeing to no fourth runway ever; a ban on scheduled night flights; a legal limit on noise levels and a noise levy to fund local mitigation; and a legal limit on CO2 emissions.
Chairman Howard Davies dismissed the idea put forward by London Mayor Boris Johnson of a new airport in the Thames Estuary as "unfeasibly expensive, highly problematic in environmental terms and would be hugely disruptive for many businesses and communities". He also added that as there is no environmental or operational case for a fourth runway, "the government should take action in Parliament to rule it out firmly and finally."