runways at Heathrow and Gatwick are among the options that have been
short-listed by the Airports Commission for expanding UK airport
The three short-listed options include adding a third runway
at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, and a new
runway at Gatwick.
The commission, led by businessman Sir Howard Davies, has also not ruled out a new airport in the Isle of Grain.
However, it says it will need further analysis before deciding.
A final report is due by the summer of 2015.
Sir Howard was asked in 2012 to investigate the options for
expanding the UK's aviation capacity and try to come up with a plan.
He said the Commission's analysis showed one net additional runway was needed by 2030.
"The capacity challenge is not yet critical, but it will become so if no action is taken soon," he added.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has said that putting a new runway at Heathrow would be a "catastrophe".
Following the commission's report, Mr Johnson said he
continued to support the creation of the Isle of Grain airport in north
"A new airport in the inner estuary is the only credible hub
option left. By keeping it on the table, Davies is saying you have a
choice - between a damaging U-turn or a radical new vision for
expansion," he said.
The commission said it would undertake further study of the
Isle of Grain option in the first half of next year, before deciding
whether it offers "a credible proposal for consideration alongside the
other short-listed options".
But supporters of Heathrow's expansion say it will be quicker
and cheaper than other options and will help to maintain the UK as an
international aviation hub.
Heathrow's owners submitted evidence to the commission
arguing that a new runway could be in place by 2029, allowing 260,000
Colin Matthews, Heathrow chief executive, told the BBC: "The
case for Heathrow is strong. It's important that businesses can get
around the globe to where economies are growing."
Heathrow is one of the world's busiest hub airports, handling
70 million passengers in 2012. A third of those travellers were transit
passengers transferring to other flights.
But the airport operates at 98% of its capacity.
When the coalition government came to power in 2010, it
scrapped the former Labour government's plan for a third runway at
The government said on Monday that it had not ruled out any
options when it came to airport expansion in the south-east of England.
On Sunday, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that
the government would stick to its pledge not to build a new runway at
Heathrow before 2015.
He told the BBC: "We will not be building a third runway in this Parliament. We will stick by our manifesto commitment."
The commission has not shortlisted proposals for expanding
Stansted or Birmingham, but said there was likely to be a case for
considering them as "potential options" for any second new runway by
Possible options for a new London hub
airport - the government on Monday said has not ruled out any options
when it came to airport expansion in the South East.
One of the proposals though not on the shortlist, is still in the running as follows
Welcome to London Britannia Airport: Plans for £47.3bn six-runway
Thames Estuary 'Boris Island' are revealed by consortium which wants to
A new six-runway hub airport to the east of London could be built within seven years at a cost of £47.3billion.
However, the ambitious plans would require the closure of Heathrow airport, which employs 76,000 people.
proposed new airport would sit on a purpose-built island off the Isle
of Sheppey in Kent in the Thames Estuary, some 50 miles east of central
London, and would be known as London Britannia Airport.
- The airport would sit on an artificial island 50 miles east of London
- It is a pet project for London Mayor Boris Johnson
- Plans would require the 'recycling' of Heathrow into new London borough
- The consortium claim 200,000 jobs will be created by ambitious project
- Heathrow, which is pushing for extra runway, strongly opposes plan
- Environmental groups also claim airport will devastate region's ecology
Soaring ambition: An artist's impression of the
£47.3bn London Britannia Airport, which would be built on an artificial
island in the Thames Estuary
The British government and business
groups want to expand flights to fast-growing economies to ensure the UK
can tap into billions of pounds of trade opportunities. With Heathrow,
London's biggest airport, operating at 99 per cent capacity, more
runways are needed.
the island airport has been criticised by environmental groups, who say
the estuary is not just 'dead space waiting for development'.
proposal was released by Thames Estuary Research and Development
(Testrad), a consortium formed by London Mayor Boris Johnson to address
the capital's air capacity crunch.
estuary airport is a passion project for Mr Johnson, who has blasted
plans for a third - or even fourth - runway at Heathrow.
said any expansion will 'consign millions of Londoners to unacceptable
levels of noise pollution', while a three-runway airport would be
'obsolete' as soon as it was built.
said the new hub would have six runways and could be built within seven
years without having to demolish houses or industrial infrastructure.
It will also create 200,000 jobs.
Rivals: As a result of Testrad's plans, Heathrow airport would likely have to close to accommodate the ambitious scheme
Testrad said the new hub would have six runways
and could be built within seven years without having to demolish houses
or industrial infrastructure
An artist's impression of the airport's concourse
'This project avoids flying over densely
populated areas of London and the south east, removing completely the
noise contours and impact which have bedevilled millions of people
throughout and around London over the past 40 years,' a Testrad
Testrad has proposed the Heathrow site is 'recycled' into a new borough for London, creating housing and business opportunities.
added: 'Under wartime legislation in 1944, the village of Heathrow and
valuable farmland was requisitioned for a new military airfield.
and recycling the tightly constrained Heathrow airport site as a city
extension for London, will allow a transformation of acres of runway
concrete into a real piece of city, with the return of bio-diversity, in
gardens, lakes and a landscape park system full of trees, birds and
Proposed rail lines to link the airport to the capital, 50 miles away
Gateway: The British government and business
groups want to expand flights to fast-growing economies to ensure the UK
can tap into billions of pounds of trade opportunities
Vast: The outline of Heathrow in red above, superimposed over London. Testrad calls Heathrow 'highly constrained and overloaded'
Officials at Heathrow (pictured) have vehemently
opposed the plans, saying an extra runway is the solution to Britain's
air capacity woes
'With so many options available for a
multi-runway hub airport in a new location, it would be folly for the
Airports Commission to give countenance to the prospect of expanding
Heathrow, the most noise-polluting airport in Europe.'
Heathrow vehemently opposes the plans. In June Colin Matthews, CEO of
Heathrow, said: 'Britain already has one of the world’s most successful
international hub airports in Heathrow.
Heathrow will put Britain ahead in the global race, connecting UK
business to growth more quickly and at less cost to the taxpayer than
any other option for new capacity.
is better located for passengers, business and jobs. Why build from
scratch at a new hub when we can build on the strength that already
exists around Heathrow today?'
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS BLAST 'BORIS ISLAND'
scheme has attracted condemnation from a number of environmental
groups, notably Friends Of The Earth, WWF and Greenpeace UK.
Royal Society For The Protection Of Birds (RSPB) has also dismissed the
campaign and says the consortium has failed to address the
'considerable' environmental issues.
said much of the estuary has international environmental protection and
added that hundreds of thousands of birds use the estuary as a major
migratory route, posing a considerable threat to planes from bird
Chris Corrigan, the
RSPB’s Director for South East England said: 'Boris continues to pursue
this pipe dream, but no amount of wishful thinking on his behalf changes
the fact that the Thames Estuary is not dead space waiting for
'It is home to
an immense number of birds and other wildlife. You can not recreate the
estuary nor move the native or migratory wildlife that relies on it for
food and shelter.
the Mayor doesn't want to go down in history as the man who decimated
not just birds in the Thames, but global species too, while putting air
passengers lives at risk due to bird strike.