Heathrow Airport Expansion Uncertainty Bookmark and Share

Airline bosses have told British MPs that there is no alternative to expanding Heathrow airport. Virgin and Easyjet bosses have pointed out to the UK government that there is no choice but to expand Heathrow which is now full to capacity.

Heathrow expansion supporters have claimed that there are no alternatives and that the third runway is essential for Britains economic security. They have alerted the Government to the fact that Heathrow is now fifth in a league table of airports regarding the number of destinations served, behind Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and Munich. It has been said that, in order to maintain its position as a primary transport hub, the expansion of Heathrow airport is essential.

The anti-expansion lobby has now received support from a number of prominent businesses. These businesses include the drinks group Diageo, BT along with Tate and Lyle. The emerging economies and opportunities presented in Africa, Latin Americal and Asia has led to them being united with the CBI employers group and TUC in support of a third runway.

Climate change scientists have said that Heathrow expansion must simply be halted. They have said that the only practical solution is for the airlines to reduce the demand for air transport. It is clear that this approach would not support growth in the economy.

The decision to allow BAA to draw up plans for the controversial third runway was granted in January 2009. But this has been legally challenged by a coalition representing millions of people. The key points of the challenge are:

  • That the UK risks breaching noise targets and the EU legal limits on air pollution.
  • The decision to allow the development of a third runway at Heathrow will undermine Government’s efforts to meet emission targets that are intended to make a significant contribution to tackling climate change.
  • That there should have been further consultation as the final plan adopted by the Government was so different from the original proposals.

The courts will now have to decide if the decision is compatible with the UK governments current legal obligations and policies with regard to climate change.

It is clear that conflict exists between those who think that increased air transport, with Heathrow as the hub of the transport network, is essential for economic security and growth and those who believe that Heathrow expansion is climatic suicide and that we should be taking steps to curb increases in demand.

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