MPs call for Heathrow expansion

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MPs on the Transport Committee have rejected calls for a new hub airport east of London and urge the government to allow the expansion of Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport.

Launching the report of an inquiry that examined the UK government’s Aviation Strategy, Louise Ellman, chair of the House of Commons’ Transport Committee said, ‘We looked closely at the three main options by which the UK could increase its hub airport capacity.

‘Research we commissioned made plain that building an entirely new hub airport east of London could not be done without huge public investment in new ground transport infrastructure.

‘Evidence to our inquiry also showed a substantial potential impact on wildlife habitat in the Thames estuary.

‘The viability of an estuary hub airport would also require the closure of Heathrow.

‘Heathrow has been short of capacity for a decade and is currently operating at full capacity. We conclude that a third runway at Heathrow is necessary,  but also suggest that a four-runway proposal may have merit, especially if expanding to locate two new runways westwards from the current site could curb the noise experienced by people affected under the flight path.

‘We conclude that adding new runways to expand a number of other existing airports will not, on its own, provide a long-term solution to the hub capacity problem. We do however encourage Gatwick’s operator to develop a robust business case for their vision of a second runway.

‘We reject the notion of linking existing airports by high-speed rail to form a split-hub; the outcome from this would be highly uncompetitive in terms of passenger transfer times compared to competitor hubs overseas.’

Although ‘Boris Island’, London mayor Boris Johnson’s proposed airport in the Thames Estuary, was scoffed at by critics, it reflects a growing trend of aiming to build on seas and oceans. Click here to read more.