The next Government will need to make a decision on whether or not to build a third runway at Heathrow. Heathrow Airport wants one but it faces considerable opposition. Below are 10 key reasons why a third runway is neither required or desirable.
1. Over 700,000 live under the Heathrow flight paths and London is the most overflown city in Europe
Number of people affected:
The figures are the latest from the European Commission (2006). They mean that 28% of all people impacted by aircraft noise across Europe live under the Heathrow flight paths. The actual number would rise to over a million if a third runway was built.
Compare this plane landing at Barcelona click here.
2. The planes fly over some of Europe’s most populated and poorest areas
The aircraft using Heathrow fly over some very wealthy places but they also fly over some of the most densely-populated areas in Europe. According to the Indices of Deprivation these include some of the poorest places in the UK where people have no choice of moving away.
3. At least 750 homes would be demolished
This is the bare minimum that would be required. Most people believe it will be many more because the current plans leave too many people uncomfortably close to the new runway. Lives would be disturbed and communities destroyed.
4. A third runway is not essential for London economy
More business people and tourists fly into London each year than fly to any other city in the world. Most have no preference which airport they use. This trend will continue whether or not a third runway is built at Heathrow. Read more in this blog click here and click here.
5. Tens of thousands would be under a flight path for the first time
A new runway inevitably means a new flight path. Many people in West London and Berkshire could get planes for the first time for as many as 13 hours in one day.
6. Heathrow is the only major UK airport where air pollution levels remain stubbornly above EU legal limits
The European Union’s Directive on Air Pollution has set legal limits which now need to be met by 2020. In the Heathrow area the pollution comes from the planes but also from the traffic on the nearby motorways. Colin Matthews, the CEO of Heathrow until July 2014, has said that traffic on the M4 in the vicinity of the airport would need to be ‘diesel-free’ to allow for a third runway to be built.
7. Traffic could grind to a halt
The M25 between junctions 14 and 15 (Heathrow to the M4) is the busiest section of motorway in UK. Heathrow has admitted that only some form of congestion charge could keep levels to a manageable level if a third runway was built.
8. It would cause big climate problems
A third runway in itself would not bust the Government’s targets to cut CO2 emissions but it would mean that the planes using the country’s other airports would need to be strictly controlled.
9. It would face massive opposition
There would be opposition not just from local residents but also from environmentalists, many local authorities, politicians from all parties as well as some businesses and trade unions. When the last Government tried to build a third runway, it was defeated by this coalition. Huge rallies attended by thousands of local people, cross-party backing, eye-catching direct action, all backed up by sound arguments saw of the plans for a third runway. See How the Heathrow Campaign was Won.
You can read more about the case against a third runway: The Case Against Heathrow Expansion (PDF)
10. There are alternatives
Other airports are being looked at where the impacts of expansion would be less but there is also scope for a switch to rail. Around 20% of the flights currently using Heathrow are domestic or to near-Europe. And, indeed, 45% of air trips within Europe are 500 kilometres or less in length. If trains were fast and more affordable, a number of people would switch from air to rail.