North west option could lead to new flight path over Ealing, Acton and Chiswick
Heathrow campaigners branded the Airport Commission’s Interim Report, issued today, as ‘the trigger to 18 months of intense campaigning against Heathrow expansion’.
The ‘worst case’ option for Chiswick, Acton and Ealing is one of three that has been short-listed for expanding airport capacity in London. A third runway to the north west of the existing two at Heathrow would create a new flightpath over these areas.
The Commission argues that there will be the need for one new runway in London and the South East by 2030. Over the next 18 months the Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, will assess whether that runway should be at Gatwick or Heathrow. The report has rejected plans to expand Stansted. Davies has real doubts about the viability of an Estuary Airport and proposes to rule it in or out in 6 months time. The only Estuary option he will assess is the Isle of Grain.
Davies has said that he does not believe two new runways will be required for the foreseeable future.
At Heathrow the Commission has dropped the option of a new runway to the south of the airport, largely because of the difficulties posed by the reservoirs. It has also dropped plans for a new runway demolishing Sipson.
It is to look at two options in more detail:
a runway to be built to the North West of the existing airport, as proposed by Heathrow Airport. This would require significant demolition in Longford and Harmondsworth. A new flightpath would see planes landing over Notting Hill, Holland Park, the northern parts of Chiswick and Southall.
The new northern runway proposed by the promoters of the ‘Heathrow Hub’. Their proposal is to move the existing northern runway two miles further west and extend it so that a new runway is created. One would be used for landings; the other for take-offs.
John Stewart, chair of HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flights paths, said, “Although Davies’s proposals focus less on Heathrow than had been rumoured, there is little doubt they will act as the trigger to 18 months of intense campaigning against Heathrow expansion. A new runway will increase planes from 480,000 a year to 560,000. There is no way overall noise levels will decrease.”
Stewart added, “The scale of the opposition will be so great that we believe that they are politically undeliverable and should have been dropped at this stage.”
Ruth Cadbury, Labour's likely candidate for the Brentford and Isleworth seat at the next election pledged to do all in her power to oppose the proposals.
She said, "Yet again hundreds of thousands of residents of west London are faced with uncertainty as a third runway is back on the table. Having campaigned for 12 years with local residents I am deeply disappointed that the proposal is back again, after being ruled out by the Conservatives when they came into Government in 2010."
She added, "The longer runway proposal will still mean the same landing path over our heads for most of the day and night."
Davies will also be recommending short-term measures which could be implemented within the next five years. He wants to see:
Better use of airspace
Improved surface access to existing airports
Some experiments which allow more night flights before 6am in exchange for longer respite periods
The final report of the Airports Commission is due to be published in summer 2015, two months after the next General Election.
THE PROPOSALS IN DETAIL
Davies believes that there is only demand for 1 new runway in London and the South East for the foreseeable future. Therefore a 4 runway Heathrow has been ruled out.
Davies will assess the merits of a second runway at Gatwick.
Davies will assess the merits of a 3rd runway at Heathrow
- he has ruled out the southern option and the ‘Sipson’ option
- he will look at a new runway to the North West of the Airport, as proposed by Heathrow Airport
- he will look at the northern runway proposed by the promoters of the Heathrow Hub: heathrowhub.com The existing northern runway would be extended at one or both ends. The result is that it becomes two separate, in-line runways – one for aircraft landing and one for taking off. The promoters argue that, because the runway is further west, it will reduce noise over West London but Heathrow Airport have rejected it because it would mean all-day flying on the northern runway, i.e. residents would get no respite.
Stansted – rejected
Davies has ruled out any more runways at Stansted. He has cited three reasons:
- New runways would create significant problems with the crowded airspace in the region (it is one of the busiest pieces of airspace in Europe)
- Expansion of Stansted might impact adversely on Luton and London City Airports
- The regeneration benefits would be minimal in an area with one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country
Estuary Airport – neither in nor out
Davies recognizes it has benefits in terms of noise but has major concerns about it:
- It may well infringe the EU Habitats Directive, particularly the clause which requires all other options for airports to be seen to fail before it can be proceeded with.
- Surface access would be problematic and costly
- The airlines are not at all keen on it and may be reluctant to use it.
December 18, 2013