Left-center: John Holland-Kaye, chief executive for London Heathrow
London Heathrow Airport has set forth a new plan to meet the environmental conditions set out by the Airports Commission should the UK government decide to proceed with its third-runway expansion plans.
In July 2015, Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission voted in favor of expanding London Heathrow, following a three-year study into the best option for growing the UK’s aviation capacity. However the report also found that a number of environmental measures would need to be met and the UK government decided to delay a decision on expanding the airport pending further environmental studies.
In response, John Holland-Kaye, chief executive for London Heathrow, has written to the British Prime Minister setting out a plan that attempts to balance the economic gain from expansion with the environmental impacts.
In his letter, Holland-Kaye said, “You set up the Airports Commission and it unanimously recommended expanding Heathrow. You demanded ambitious plans from my team to deliver expansion with a bold and fair deal for our neighbors.
“I am proud to submit a comprehensive plan that meets and exceeds your demands. This is a big commitment from us, but it is the right choice for the country, local communities and jobs across Britain.
“We have acted now to let you and your government make the right choice, in the long-term interest of our country. It will enable you to choose Heathrow and secure a stronger economy and Britain’s place in the world.
“Expanding Heathrow can help Britain win thousands more jobs and ensure that future generations have the same economic opportunity that we have enjoyed.”
The airport’s response to the Commission includes the introduction of a ban on scheduled flights for six and a half hours between 11:00pm and 5:30am, an increase from the five-hour ban today.
It also includes a proposal for the Environment Agency to be given the role of an independent aviation air quality authority, to provide transparent scrutiny of the measures Heathrow will introduce to enable it to expand in accordance with air quality rules.
The report also states that Heathrow will establish an Education and Skills Taskforce that will identify how best to develop the airport’s future skilled workforce and create a legacy for UK infrastructure projects.
In response to the open letter by Heathrow, London Gatwick Airport has responded by saying that it remains the only expansion plan that can actually deliver for the UK, providing the same growth and the same benefits but without the noise impacts, reduction in air quality, and at half the cost with no public subsidy.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, said, “This is a desperate last throw from a project that has repeatedly failed. Heathrow’s air quality plans, for example, fail the most basic credibility test. You can’t promise no more cars with a third runway and at the same time propose to expand the M25 and plan to spend millions on parking.
“Heathrow has constantly failed the environmental tests and the public and politicians won’t be fooled by yet more warm words which have been heard for decades.
“Rather than circling around a failed solution that will never happen, we should get on with something that can actually happen – only Gatwick can deliver for the UK. Heathrow can promise many things but they cannot wish away the reality of its location. An expanded Heathrow will newly impact hundreds of thousands of people currently not affected by aircraft noise – an expanded Gatwick would impact less than 3% of this number.
“Similarly, Heathrow breaches air quality legal limits today and a third runway can only make matters worse and would consequently be unlawful. Gatwick has established a track record of complying with all legal air quality limits and would continue to comply even with a second runway.
“After decades of uncertainty the time has come to back an option that can actually happen. Only Gatwick can provide the additional runway capacity and economic boost that is long overdue without the exorbitant cost, with no public subsidy, while limiting the impact on the environment.
“Only Gatwick provides the solution that the UK needs, providing a more competitive market, leading to lower fares and better service for passengers, and fostering balanced economic growth across the UK. That’s a promise,” concluded Wingate.
To view a video of John Holland-Kaye setting out the latest proposal for London Heathrow click here.