government has approved plans for a third runway at Heathrow, along with the
possibility of new high-speed rail links from the airport.
In a document
outlining the decision, the Department for Transport (DfT) said that Transport
Secretary Geoff Hoon:
policy support for adding a third runway at Heathrow with additional passenger
terminal facilities and a slightly longer runway (2,200m operational length),
but subject to an aggregate limit of 605,000 annual movements, which would be
subject to review in 2020;
not support the introduction of mixed mode on the existing runways as an
interim measure before a third runway;
his intention to end the ‘Cranford agreement’
(which currently limits easterly departures off the northern runway);
his view that the following operating practices should be retained and
preference’ (the preferred direction of operation of the runways except in
strong contrary winds);
rotation’ (the practice of alternating the use of the existing runways at night
between westerly and easterly preference, subject to weather conditions;
morning alternation’ (the practice of alternating arriving aircraft between the
two runways in the 0600 to 0700 period, subject to operational requirements).
In a statement British Airways voiced its “strong support” for the decision. CEO Willie Walsh said:
“This is the right decision for jobs and investment in the UK. Heathrow is our national hub airport and Britain cannot succeed in a global economy without the capacity for excellent air links already built by our international competitors.
“The Government has imposed additional, tough environmental safeguards on the way the airport will operate and a new system for rigorous enforcement. Heathrow will set new world standards for airport environmental performance.
“We are disappointed at the rejection of mixed-mode, which would have reduced Heathrow’s vulnerability to delays, but very much welcome the proposal of a high-speed rail hub at Heathrow.
“The Government has reached a balanced decision in the long-term interests of the whole country. I hope people will respect it. We have had six years of public debate on a third runway.
“This process has also taken very seriously the idea of an alternative hub airport in the Thames Estuary. The judgement has been made that expansion at Heathrow – which will not cost taxpayers a penny – is by far the better course.
“No-one can say the decision on a third runway has been taken hastily or without proper evaluation or research.
“We have not been good at providing new transport infrastructure in this country. Many road and rail projects have been talked about for decades without implementation. This new runway will be the first at a major airport in southern England for more than 70 years.
“Other countries have moved well ahead of Britain in building infrastructure with the capacity to underpin future prosperity. This decision has given the UK the chance to start catching up. Let’s put the debate behind us, show common purpose and create the environmentally sustainable, world-class hub airport that people in Britain deserve.”
But Greenpeace’s executive director John Sauven said:
“This new runway cannot and will not be built. If it’s a green light it will shred the last vestiges of Brown’s environmental credibility. An expanded Heathrow would become the single biggest emitter of CO2 in Britain. Labour MPs will lose seats over this as the anti-runway movement grows and grows. We’ll fight it every step of the way because the lives of millions of people depend on us all slashing carbon emissions.”
Click here to read the full DfT report.