Plans to expand Heathrow Airport have been described as a ‘once-in-a-generation project that will connect Britain to global growth’, but with a price tag of £14bn, is it really value for money?
We posed this question following the publication last week of Heathrow Airport Ltd’s expansion masterplan, which is now subject to a 12-week consultation.
As noted last week, the project includes moving the courses of several small rivers, replacing utilities, burying the M25 in a tunnel as it passes under the route of the new runway and its associated taxiways, and building several new – and very large - car parks.
To paraphrase a Heathrow spokesperson, an expanded airport will deliver thousands of new jobs and provide an economic boost for Britain and its future generations. For others, it represents decades of disruption, more air and noise pollution, and the loss of 3,750 homes.
For 36 per cent of last weeks poll respondents, any expansion should take place at another airport, followed by 24 per cent who agree that Heathrow’s proposed plan is the only realistic option for maintaining the UK’s position as major air transport hub.
Of the 556 votes cast, a fifth (20 per cent) agree that airport expansion should be shelved, 16 per cent favour a wholly new airport, and four per cent went for ‘none of the above’.
The idea of attracting more motorists to Heathrow stirred the ire of a number of respondents, including Another Steve, who said: “Traffic wise this proposal is lunacy. Currently, during busy periods the M25 is stationary, particularly around Heathrow, and that’s even after extra lanes have been added to try and address this problem. Now it is proposed to put even more traffic onto the M25 through the Heathrow expansion and that’s after the absolute chaos that will be caused by the proposed rerouting of the M25.”
Covering a number of expansion related issues, Lawrence vK-B said: “Add a runway at Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester. LHR is full, the space for expansion is wrong and there is no network effect. Push balanced infrastructure spend across the country and makes HS2 viable. Billions into a gridlock proposal is a notion that is born out of zero strategy innovation and implemented by the unthinking.”
Looking at the threat of increased pollution, John Armstrong said: “It is indeed lunacy to expand Heathrow. Apart from all the other reasons mentioned above we’ve just been told that we aim to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Expanding the pollution and CO2 generator that is Heathrow is indeed shooting yourself in the foot just before running a marathon.”
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