Heathrow Airport expansion is one of the most controversial of the government’s infrastructure expansion projects. On one hand, supporters claim it is vital for the countries economic future. On the other hand, pressure groups say it is an unnecessary expense and an environmental disaster.
People who support the expansion say:
- Heathrow needs more capacity. Heathrow runs at close to 100% capacity. With demand for air travel predicted to double in a generation, Heathrow will not be able to cope without a third runway, say those in favour of the plan.
- A third runway at Heathrow airport would provide a £21.7bn boost to the UK economy
- Planes parked at Heathrow . Some say a third runway is the only solution to the congestion at Heathrow
- Tens of thousands of jobs will be created – in construction in the short term – and for business and in tourism over the longer term.
- Lack of expansion at Heathrow would threaten London’s position as trading capital of the world, throttling the very international links Britain was built on.
- Business leaders argue London deserves and needs an airport of international quality.
- Pollution concerns are overplayed
- By 2020, when the runway would be completed, new technology will mean planes are much quieter and less polluting.
- Flights would simply move to other European airports. CO2 would not be reduced, merely transferred elsewhere to the UK’s detriment.
- There is no alternative
- Building a brand new airport in the Thames Estuary is not feasible. Transport Minister says lack of transport infrastructure, fears of ‘bird strike’, cost and lack of available finance
On the other hand, people against expanding Heathrow Airport say:
- Heathrow generates 50% of UK aviation emissions.
- Heathrow’s contribution to overall UK emissions would rise significantly by 2050, some calculate to as much as 50% of total
- Heathrow would even now breach the EU regulations on levels of Nitrous Oxide – danger to public health
- Noise pollution on flight paths could devalue homes and impact quality of life
- New passengers the extra runway would bring would be transit passengers. According to former BA boss Bob Ayling they would spend little or nothing in London, only boosting airline profits
- To make way for the runway, Sipson – a village of 700 houses – would be demolished and hundreds of acres of greenbelt land would be swallowed up
- Transport infrastructure around Heathrow already struggles. The extra demands would create gridlock