Why Heathrow will never expand

John Rentoul

Heathrow airport 300x235 Why Heathrow will never expandBoris Johnson had some fun on the Today programme this morning, saying that the third runway at Heathrow “simply will not happen”. He is right about that. As indeed was this commentator in December 2008.

But the reason why it will not happen is not well understood. The green case is strong. If we are serious about cutting carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, increasing airport capacity is a funny way to go about it.

The reason why Heathrow in particular will not expand is simpler, however. It was mentioned by Andrew Adonis, former Secretary of State for Transport, at the Mile End Group last week. It is that 30 per cent of all the people in the European Union who are affected by aircraft noise live near Heathrow.

This is an astonishing statistic, which shows how unusual Heathrow is as an international airport in rather than outside a big city. It was so surprising that the estimable FullFact checked it out when Boris Johnson used it on the Today programme in January.

They have just updated their article with revised figures from the CAA, which are that, in 2006, the latest year for which information is available, 756,000 people (page 20, table 6e) were affected by aircraft noise louder than 55dB near Heathrow, out of 2.5m in the whole of the EU.

Heathrow expansion. Not going to happen.

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  • amazonas

    I keep looking at the photo trying to understand where the third runway is supposed to go? Can someone help me? Parallel runways require a minimum separation. In San Francisco for example the runways are too close together and in reduced visibility (like that never happens in the UK) they can only use one at a time causing a lot of delays. I’m thinking a third runway would have to be somewhere the other side of Hounslow.

  • Pescadorean

    LA is a despicable airport as well.

  • julianzzz

    Kerosene, over time jet fuel emissions addle the brain.

  • julianzzz

    Try Manchester, altogether more civilised and situated in real England rather than on the outskirts of the international bubble economy.

  • lancelotgeorge

    Cheaper housing because nearer the flightpath! Good idea – like living on a main road.

  • lancelotgeorge

    We used to love air travel – it’s a natural high!

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