Heathrow expansion plans pass Labour Party “tests”
Former Shadow Transport Spokesman Michael Dugher set out four tests the Labour Party would use to assess the Airports Commission’s recommendation. The new Labour Transport team have confirmed the “four tests” will be used as part of the party’s review of airports policy. Below is the Airports Commission in its own words on each of the four tests that confirm Heathrow passes them all.
1. Robust and convincing evidence is provided that the required increased aviation capacity will be delivered with Sir Howard Davies’ recommendation.
“Heathrow is operating at capacity, and Gatwick is quickly approaching the same point. There is still spare capacity elsewhere in the South East for point-to-point and especially low-cost flights, but with no availability at its main hub airport London is beginning to find that new routes to important long-haul destinations are set up elsewhere in Europe rather than in the UK.”
“Other UK airports are increasingly squeezed out of Heathrow, with passengers from the nations and regions obliged to transfer through other European airports, or Middle Eastern hubs. That costs them time and money, and is off-putting to inward investors.(1)”
“We have concluded that the best answer is to expand Heathrow’s runway capacity. A brand new airport in the Thames Estuary, while appealing in theory, is unfeasibly expensive, highly problematic in environmental terms and would be hugely disruptive for many businesses and communities.
“Gatwick, by contrast, has presented a plausible case for expansion. It is well placed to cater for growth in intra-European leisure flying, but is unlikely to provide as much of the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long‑haul destinations in new markets. Heathrow can provide that capacity most easily and quickly.(2)”
“Overall, the analysis suggests that the strongest benefits for the UK economy are likely to come from focusing capacity where demand is strongest: be that from freight users, leisure passengers, business travellers or the international transfer passengers needed to support a dense long-haul network. In each case, the highest levels of demand are seen at Heathrow.(3)”
2. The recommended expansion in capacity can go hand-in-hand with efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from aviation and allow us to meet our legal climate change obligations
The Airports Commission confirms expansion is compatible with the UK government’s target of 37.5MtCO2 emissions from aviation by 2050. This aligns with the opinion of the independent Committee on Climate Change which has confirmed a 60% growth in passengers is consistent with meeting the UK’s climate change targets.
The Commission’s report said ‘Heathrow’s location and its much greater public-transport connectivity (both locally and to the country as a whole) makes it the most efficient location in terms of carbon emissions due to surface access.(4)’
“The new capacity provided by an additional runway would alleviate the constraints on the route network and provide the users of aviation with the connectivity that they need for years to come. An additional runway could deliver significant benefits for the UK without breaching the UK’s climate change commitments or requiring aviation emissions to exceed the planning assumption set by the CCC.(5)”
“None of the schemes materially alter the likelihood of the UK exceeding the National Emissions Ceilings and the Gothenburg targets.(6)”
3. Local noise and environmental impacts have been adequately considered and will be managed and minimised.
“The Commission’s conclusion is that the environmental impacts of expansion at Heathrow, once effective mitigations and generous provision for compensation are in place, do not outweigh its very significant national and local benefits.(7)”
“In our Final Report, we acknowledge the air quality challenges facing the UK… Our analysis demonstrates, however, that the impacts of expansion at Heathrow would be a manageable part of this broader issue, which we believe the Government can feasibly devise and implement appropriate measures to address. In our view, therefore, limited weight should be placed on the suggestion that air quality represents a significant obstacle to expansion.(8)”
“Over the coming decades the noise impacts of Heathrow are forecast to reduce significantly, as new and quieter aircraft come into service and as flight paths are redesigned and improved. With expansion, the overall number of flights would grow, but new approach and departure paths could enable the noise impacts to be dispersed more widely, limiting the impacts on any individual community.(9)”
“Any effective solution must also take account of the interests of those individuals and communities around Heathrow who are not opposed to expansion. Alongside the hostility to a third runway, the Commission’s national consultation has demonstrated that there is also substantial support at the local level, which recognises the economic and employment opportunities that expansion would create.(10)”
4. Benefits of expansion will be felt in every corner of the country, not just the South East of England, and that regional airports will be supported too.
“The economic impacts of expansion at Heathrow would be felt throughout the UK… It shows that the effects of expansion would be felt most strongly in the air passenger and freight sectors, but with increases in economic activity also seen across the country in other sectors with international linkages, such as manufacturing and accommodation and food services.
“In total, the analysis indicates that around 60% of the overall boost to GDP would be focused on areas of the UK outside the South East of England.(11)”
“Regional stakeholders have been clear in their representations to the Commission that while links to overseas hubs are highly valued, they are not considered a substitute for access to Heathrow.(12)”
“Access to international connectivity will also be important in supporting regional economic growth, in line with the Government’s evolving policy to create a Northern Powerhouse. The links to HS2 at Old Oak Common and to the Great Western Main Line at Reading will help to ensure that the benefits of expansion at Heathrow are felt across the English regions.”
“In addition, for nations and regions where domestic air connections to London remain crucial, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland, expansion will create space at the airport for increased frequencies and new links.(13)”
“Expansion at Heathrow would enhance connections between the UK regions and London and its associated onward connectivity, reversing the trend of declining links between London and the rest of the UK witnessed in recent decades.(14)”
Response from Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye welcomed the Labour stance today, citing the airport’s thorough, new approach, to expansion as proof it is the right option.
“The Airports Commission’s analysis clearly shows that Heathrow can pass the four tests the Labour Party would use to assess the Government’s response to the Airports Commission’s recommendation. Our new plans meet demand, are compliant with international carbon obligations, address local air quality and noise issues, and provide benefits to the whole country,” John Holland-Kaye said.
“The Commission has backed a positive and ambitious vision for the whole of the UK Britain. We look forward to working with Labour to make it happen.”
Find out more:
- INTERACTIVE MAP: How is your rail journey to Heathrow set to improve alongside expansion plans?
- 270+ UK business leaders call on PM David Cameron to implement Heathrow expansion
- Over 80% of responses to Airports Commission consultation supported Heathrow