The Government consultation on its draft aviation strategy, published today (1), gives no hope to the backers of a third runway at Heathrow, according to campaign group HACAN. The document restates the fact that it is not Government policy to expand Heathrow.
It also stresses that it would be politically very difficult to build a third runway at Heathrow. The document says “proposals for a third runway at Heathrow demonstrate that without sufficient support, particularly at a political level, it would not be possible for any government to deliver new capacity, however hard some shout for it”. It adds “The Government’s opposition to the building of a third runway at Heathrow was, and continues to be, determined in large part by a concern about the scale of the noise impacts at the airport”.
HACAN Chair John Stewart said, “The whole tone of the consultation is that a third runway at Heathrow continues to be off the agenda.”
Stewart added: “We are not concerned that the second part of the consultation, calling for evidence about the need for extra capacity in London and the South East, has been delayed. In many ways today’s consultation paper is the more important as it lays out the overall policy framework. This policy consultation may be less sexy than expected one about new runways but it is the more important.”
The consultation document rebuffs the claims by the aviation industry that the UK is losing out because of its airport connections. It says: “The UK is currently one of the best connected countries in the world. We are directly connected to over 360 international destinations. Using available airline seat kilometres as a connectivity metric, only China’s aviation networks are more extensive than the UK’s, and Germany and France are in fifth and eighth place respectively.
HACAN has also welcomed the recognition by the Government that “people living outside the 57 dB LAeq,16h contour are also affected by aircraft noise and that for some, the annoyance may be significant. Indeed many complaints about aircraft noise come from outside the 57 dB LAeq,16h contour, reflecting the fact that frequency of movements can be a source of annoyance for some people living in areas exposed to lower average levels of noise across the whole day.” The Government will do further work on this.
Stewart said: “At long last a recognition from a Government that the noise contours are outdated. We will be pressing hard during the consultation period for a more realistic measurement of noise to be introduced.”
For more information:
John Stewart on 0207 737 6641; 07957385650