On Tuesday, the Davies Commission released its eagerly anticipated airport capacity expansion options shortlist, including two at Heathrow.
Here at yourHeathrow, we asked West London Business CEO Frank Wingate for the local business reaction and what it means for his area and the UK.
West London Business, the Chamber of Commerce for West London, welcomes the findings of the Davies Commission Interim Report, and the politically objective considerations which produced them. We are pleased the Commission has identified two Heathrow options among the three shortlisted: a new north-west runway and an extended northern runway.
These choices recognise the strength and logic of the argument for expanding Heathrow as the UK’s main hub airport. This is the most affordable, quickest and most practical solution to meet the need for additional airport capacity to cater for the UK’s continued economic wellbeing.
WLB is conscious of the critical importance of developing the UK’s hub airport capacity and urges the Commission to keep this as a central principle in its future deliberations.
What does the Commission’s shortlist mean for West London?
The Commission’s findings are good news for the £37 billion West London economy, which is strongly supported by Heathrow’s linkages and activity. Not only does the airport sustain some 170,000 direct and indirect jobs, but it also underpins an extensive supply chain.In addition, it is a magnet for inward investment, helping bring international corporate brands into West London, who wish to connect with their international markets. A recent report we commissioned with four LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships) to the west of Heathrow showed that West London and the Thames Valley combined accounted for 10 per cent of the entire UK economy.
It also pointed out that some 200,000 jobs would be at risk in these highly productive areas if Heathrow was forced to close by building an alternative hub. Clearly, any move leading to the closure of Heathrow would be death sentence for the West London economy as we know it.
How important is keeping Heathrow as the UK’s “hub”?
A thriving hub airport is an essential ingredient in a successful economy in the global age. It is clear the UK needs greatly improved exports to existing and new markets to power its way out of the current dismal situation. You only have to look at the economic geography of the UK to see that Heathrow is best placed to serve this purpose. There’s only one town of any economic note lying to the east of London in the UK – and that’s Norwich. The Heathrow options satisfy all economic and transport logic.
Business and economic realities show that an economy such as the UK’s, requires a national hub airport – only one – to provide the much-needed long haul connectivity to existing and emerging markets. This connectivity, being rapidly developed by our continental rivals, is vital if we are to improve our export performance in the coming years.
By collecting passengers from various origins to make the large-place long-haul flights viable, only a hub airport can provide this connectivity to those increasingly crucial emerging markets such as China, India and South America. Heathrow is a successful hub and needs to add the additional capacity to continue expanding that role.
“Heathrow is the reason we are where we are, along with the rest of the ihg-tech industry in the Thames Valley. If you think about all the companies in the IT industry between west London and Bristol there is one reason for their location. Of the 2,000 people who are based in our Thames Valley HQ, only about half of them work in the UK business. The other 50% do jobs which are not UK specific, they have roles which involve them in activities across Europe, and sometime globally. One of the main reasons they are here is that they do need to travel more and they are in close proximity to the hub airport.”– Chris Parker, Senior Director, Law and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
Where to from here?
In selecting two Heathrow options out of three as serious contenders to solve our aviation roadblock, the Davies Commission is backing an approach West London Business has long supported – invest in success and get on with the job. We look forward to the Commission continuing its independent work, free from political pressures, and following through with the sensible Heathrow answer. It will be good for West London; good for the Southeast; and good for the UK.
– CEO Frank Wingate West London Business, December 19, 2013
For more information on West London Business see their website: http://www.westlondon.com/ .
UPDATE: Heathrow’s short-listed north-west runway proposal has been resubmitted to the Airports Commission with improvements following a consultation period. Find out more here.
Dec 17, 2013: This morning saw the Airports Commission announce their interim report on increasing airport capacity in the UK. In the 5th instalment of our UK airport capacity debate coverage, yourHeathrow takes a look at the Commission’s short-list of long-term options as well as those proposed for the short term.
There are no easy options for building new UK runways with all having their pros and cons. The expansion decision will be among the toughest the government has to face, however, there are significant economic risks in not acting on the capacity issue.
What options has the Airports Commission put forward?The Airports Commission has put forward three options for long-term expansion of UK capacity which are:
- A third runway at Heathrow to the north-west of the existing runways;
- The extension of Heathrow’s northern-runway, based on the Heathrow Hub organisation’s submission to allow it to operate as two separate runways;
- A second runway at Gatwick to the south of the existing one.
The Commission has also put forward a number of short-term recommendations for improving the use of current airport capacity including a range of surface access upgrades, the establishment of an independent noise regulator and the use of airport collaborative decision making.
Significantly, the Commission has also said they will be reviewing a submission for a new airport on Isle of Grain pending further environmental and economic studies how Heathrow’s north west option would look.
Heathrow’s north-west 3rd runway option
This option was one of three put forward by Heathrow Airport in July and could be constructed in just six years with an estimated operational date of 2026. The capacity of Heathrow will be increased to 130 million passengers per year across 740,000 flights (up from 480,000 currently).
Under this option a third runway would be constructed on the site of Old Slade sewage works, Harmondsworth Moor, Harmondsworth and Longford. The runway would be just south of the M25/M4 motorways junction and part of the M25 would need to be reconfigured. Total costs are estimated to be £17 billion.
In total around 950 residential properties could face demolition. We are working to see whether this option could be developed to reduce the number of residential properties affected and to preserve the Tithe Barn and St Mary’s Church in Harmondsworth. With a north-west third runway there will be 15 per cent fewer people within Heathrow’s noise footprint in 2030 than today.
How does that differ from the Heathrow Hub option?
The Heathrow Hub option was put forward by an independent body not affiliated with Heathrow Airport. Under this option Heathrow’s northern runway would be expanded to at least 6000m, allowing it to be used as two separate runways that would be operating under mixed-mode conditions (aircraft landing and taking off on the same runway) at all times.This option would allow for a relatively cheap and quick expansion of airport capacity, however, the mixed-mode operation would result in greater noise impacts upon local communities. As part of this option, a number of new surface access projects are proposed including new railway stations near the airport.
“Mexico, Brazil, Japan and Malaysia… there is a global race out there to win jobs for Britain and I believe in leading from the front. So I make no apology for linking Britain to the fastest-growing parts of the world.”David Cameron (November 2012)
The Gatwick option?
Under this option Gatwick Airport would gain a second runway to the south of the existing one. It would also be completed relatively quickly and cheaply, without significant environmental impact.
There is a question about whether this increase in UK airport capacity will improve the country’s connectivity to emerging economies in long-haul destinations, such as China, Brazil, Russia, India and China , given Gatwick’s current largely point-to-point operation. In total, 20 long-haul airlines have withdrawn from Gatwick in the last five years.
Heathrow is not opposed to Gatwick expansion, however, without adding an additional runway at the UK’s hub airport, Heathrow, the nation will not be gaining the national economic benefits additional hub airport capacity can provide.
What is Heathrow’s view on the announcement?
We’re pleased to have had our north-west expansion option short-listed by the Airports Commission this morning. Heathrow is the UK’s only hub airport and competes with Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam for transfer passengers to support long haul routes. Point-to-point airports like Gatwick serve a different market.
“Britain is better off when we’re connected. The world economy is changing fast and Britain needs a world-class hub airport with the capacity to compete against Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. A third runway is the quickest, cheapest and surest way of connecting the UK to growth,” Heathrow CEO Colin Matthews said.
“We have thought afresh about how a third runway can be delivered. Our new option is different from the previous proposal for a third runway and will deliver the flights Britain needs while continuing to reduce the total number of people affected by aircraft noise.”
What are the next steps for the UK…
Sir Howard Davies and his Commission team will continue to work on the shortlisted options with a view to releasing their final recommendation on a long-term solution after the next general election in 2015.
How can you get involved in the expansion decision if you support Heathrow?
There are a number of ways you can get involved:
- Join the discussion on Twitter @yourHeathrow;
- Write or email your local MP. Find your MP’s contact details at http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/;
- Get involved with the Back Heathrow community campaign via http://www.backheathrow.org ;
- Write to the UK Airport Commission via contact details found on their website.
Want to keep up to date with the Expansion Debate? Follow us @yourHeathrow on Twitter and check out our related coverage.