London airport expansion: With a “final” decision on Heathrow pushed back to the summer, will a third runway ever be delivered?

Will a third runway at Heathrow ever be delivered? (Source: Getty)

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, says Yes

The Airports Commission, established by the Prime Minister, made an unanimous recommendation after a two-and-a-half-year, £20m study – the deepest ever into UK aviation capacity.

It confirmed Heathrow will deliver up to £211bn in economic benefit for the UK, while reducing noise for local communities and keeping within EU air quality limits. We have full confidence in our new plans and Heathrow will work with government to deliver Britain the hub airport capacity it needs.

Heathrow is backed by business, trade unions, politicians and airlines as the best solution to Britain’s aviation capacity crunch. It is a vital national asset, and expansion will connect all of Britain to global growth, boosting our export capacity.

We can create jobs up and down the country while we build and after we’ve built. Most importantly, we’ll deliver the world’s best connected airport – world-leading in environmental performance, reducing noise and keeping within air quality limits too.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport, says No

The simple facts show that Gatwick’s plan is the best and only deliverable solution to the UK’s runway problem. Gatwick delivers the identical number of passengers, a similar number of long haul routes, and the economic boost the UK needs – all at a dramatically lower environmental impact, at less than half the cost (£7.8bn) of Heathrow, and with no public subsidy.

In contrast, Heathrow expansion is an impossible scheme that fails time and again. The area around Heathrow already breaches EU air quality legal limits – a showstopper for Heathrow expansion in the past.

Millions of extra vehicles will only make things worse and render the whole scheme illegal. Heathrow’s plans are also unaffordable and require £5bn from taxpayers.

Further, the 700,000 Londoners who would be impacted by noise are making expansion at Heathrow politically impossible to deliver. Trying to expand Heathrow means Britain loses out again. It is time to choose Gatwick expansion – a new solution that can be operational in just ten years.

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