Heathrow has said that it will work with the Government to deliver the airport expansion for all of Britain after the Airports Commission gave a clear recommendation that “the best answer is to expand Heathrow’s runway capacity”.
The Prime Minister however, during PMQs today stated that the report would be studied and that a decision would be made by the end of the year. He said that it would not be in the best interests of the country to jump to a decision now that could result in a judicial review of that decision later on down the line.
Heathrow Hub, the independent proposal to expand Heathrow by extending the northern runway, has welcomed the decision by the Airports Commission to select Heathrow Airport as the location for expanding UK airport capacity. But it went on to say that it was disappointed that the ’third runway’ option, Heathrow Airport Ltd’s north west runway, had been the one chosen.
Captain William 'Jock' Lowe and his fellow Directors of Heathrow Hub, said:
“Heathrow Airport is the correct location for expansion for the UK. Our economy, our national transport infrastructure and our international connectivity will be vastly improved by the expansion of Heathrow Airport. While we obviously still believe our own concept to extend the runways is superior to Heathrow Airport Ltd.’s third runway option, we congratulate John Holland-Kaye and his team.
“We recognise that the Commission has spoken but we will continue to liaise with ministers and civil servants to ensure our proposal is properly understood as a cheaper, simpler and more politically deliverable option.
“From the beginning we have maintained that Heathrow is the answer and, while we still believe our proposal is cheaper, simpler and more politically deliverable, we are relieved that the Commission has made the correct decision in terms of location. Heathrow is where the airlines want to be; it’s where the demand is.
“In addition my fellow directors and I would like to thank Sir Howard Davies and his team for running a generally thorough process to answer the question posed to them by the Government. Ministers must now decide how to proceed, and we urge the Government to implement airport expansion as swiftly as possible for the sake of the UK economy.”
Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute Of Directors, said:
“The IoD warmly welcomes the Airports Commission’s recommendation to expand Heathrow. There is a clear business case for a new runway, with only 3% of our members believing that our current airport infrastructure is sufficient to ensure the UK’s long-term economic growth. Access to markets overseas is absolutely vital for firms to trade, with 75% of our members, many of whom run small or medium-sized companies, having flown for business in the last year. 40% of members expect to fly ‘much more’ for business in the future, and particularly need the links to emerging economies which expanding Heathrow would create.
“When asked to choose which of London’s major airports should get a new runway, 61% of IoD members chose Heathrow, compared to 39% who chose Gatwick. The Airports Commission has recommended strong environmental and noise protections at Heathrow, and believes expansion can bring economic benefits while limiting the impact on those living nearby. The report recognises that there is also a good case for a second runway at Gatwick, which would help promote competition, and this should be kept as an option for the future.
“This is the issue that has been kicked down the road time and again, but there can now be no further delay from politicians. Sir Howard has left the government with no excuse to put off this vital decision again, and if ministers do not proceed with all possible speed it will send a clear signal that the UK is not interested in being a modern, outward-looking, trading nation.
“The Government should move quickly to produce a National Policy Statement or a Hybrid Bill to enable construction to start at Heathrow. Parliament will have to approve any plans, so we call on all parties to recognise the vital national need for airport expansion and lend their support.
“If the Government chooses to use the National Policy Statement route, the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project system provides for a final decision in under 18 months from it being accepted by the Planning Inspectorate, and we do not want it to take any longer than that. The Government should also make clear that Heathrow will receive only the minimum possible public subsidy.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“We welcome the publication of this report which follows a lengthy, evidence-based consideration of Britain’s needs for greater airport capacity. Like other interested parties the TUC has given evidence to the commission.
“Increasing airport capacity supports high-skill jobs and economic growth, although its impacts on the environment, both in terms of carbon emissions and noise pollution, must be recognised.
“Now the government must act to implement the commission’s findings, not let them sit in archives, gathering dust.
“As this project moves forward, it is vital that the airport authorities work with trade unions. Agreements covering skills, health and safety and equality have been vital to the success of large-scale infrastructure projects in recent years, such as Heathrow Terminal Five and the stadia for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:
“Now that Sir Howard’s Commission has made its recommendation, the Government must commit to the decision now, and get diggers in the ground at Heathrow swiftly by 2020.
“Growing airport capacity in the South East is absolutely critical to the whole of the UK’s economic future – it simply isn’t an optional “nice to do”. Each day the Government delays taking the decision, the UK loses out as our competitors reap the rewards and strengthen their trade links.
“Creating new routes to emerging markets will open doors to trade, boosting growth, creating jobs and driving investment right across the country. Our research shows that eight new daily routes alone could boost exports by up to £1 billion a year.
“The UK’s economic future cannot be kept waiting on the tarmac any longer. By taking the decision now, the Government can send the message, loud and clear, that Britain is open for business.”
Michael Dugher MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said:
“Labour has always been clear that more airport capacity is vital to Britain’s economic success and we need action if we are to maintain our status as Europe’s most important aviation hub. “We will scrutinise the Airports Commission’s final report carefully. If the recommendation can meet a number of tests, including consistency with our climate change obligations, we will take a swift decision to back Sir Howard Davies’ proposals.
“How we tackle the need for aviation expansion is likely to be one of the biggest decisions for this country this decade and the ministers' difficulties with their own party should not influence their approach. We must not let politics get in the way of good business – there is too much at stake. “This issue has been kicked into the long grass too many times and Labour will be ready to back the decision that is in the best long-term interests of the country.”
James Stamp, global head of aviation at KPMG commented:
"We welcome the final publication of the Davies commission findings. The rigorous report has made a clear recommendation in favour of Heathrow, but equally, it has not ruled out expansion at Gatwick in the future. We expect both airports to play a very important role.
“A significant amount of time, effort, and energy has been spent at arriving at the conclusions. Strong account has been taken with the need to meet EU air pollution limits, address noise pollution concerns and move most ground traffic from road to rail. What must happen is action by the politicians: further delay would significantly damage UK plc.
“In context, the UK has not built a full-length runway in the South East since World War 2. Our neighbours in the EU have overtaken us – Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam already have much more runway capacity. What this means is that we’re losing out in the global connectivity race: Paris already offers 50 per cent more flights to China than London, for example. This is significant, because by 2025 there will be 7,000 new $1bn companies globally, and nearly 7 in 10 will be in emerging economies. If we want to connect with these we have to act.
“With the world’s biggest cities planning 50 new runways by 2036, allowing for 1bn new passenger journeys, we simply can’t afford any further political delay. Given that Dubai will soon have more capacity than all of London’s airports combined, it is clear that expansion of airport capacity in the South East is a must. The world is watching to see if London and the UK has the ambition to maintain its position as a Global trading hub – we’re losing ground to our competitors, and further political delay would be unacceptable.”
Chris Cummings, Chief Executive, TheCityUK, said:
"TheCityUK believes that the UK’s place as a global financial centre, its ability to compete in international markets and its export-led recovery could be stifled without additional airport capacity.
"TheCityUK supported the creation of the Airports Commission and its work assessing the UK’s future aviation capacity, including the options for a new runway in the south east of England. There were strong arguments, both economic and social, for the final options but we have reached the point where the Airports Commission’s recommendations should be implemented immediately.
"Expanding airport capacity is necessary to secure the economic recovery, to create valuable jobs and sustain our international competitiveness. The country simply cannot afford any further delays."
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is warning that any airport expansion must consider the use of unmanned aircraft. The introduction of autonomous flight could drive a significant increase in aircraft movements and change passenger travel and transport of goods by air.
The Airport Commission’s consultation for a new runway in the south east, which closed earlier in the year, made no mention of unmanned aircraft. However, once the regulatory hurdles have been cleared, currently scheduled for 2018, the freight transport industry is likely to be an early adopter.
Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal from the IET said:
“Unmanned aircraft have huge potential to transform air travel for passengers and goods.
“Over the next 20 years we are likely to see the widespread use of unmanned aircraft, particularly by the freight industry so it is vitally important that this is taken into account when decisions are being made about airport expansion.
“Companies like Amazon have already made public their intention to rely heavily on unmanned aircraft in the future. And the widespread use of unmanned aircraft in the freight industry could well drive a significant rise in aircraft movements at our main airports, as well as regional airfields.”
The IET is also stressing the need for airport expansion to be considered as part of an integrated transport strategy.
Lambert added: “When considering the best expansion option we must look at all modes of transport including public road vehicles, rail and freight. The way in which people and goods travel to the airports is also particularly important, so we must see provision for appropriate road and rail links to any expanded airport.”