Transport Select Committee endorses Heathrow third runway

7 Dec 2009 by BusinessTraveller

The Committee’s report on The Future of Aviation has endorsed the government’s support for a third runway at Heathrow, but questions the need for a second runway at Stansted.

The Transport Select Committee (TSC) said that “in view of the economic benefits to the UK, the Committee endorses the Government’s support for a third runway at Heathrow, subject to the effective application of tough environmental conditions”.

The report argued that “climate change and emissions from aviation are international problems
that cannot be solved by isolated restrictions on airport development”, and said that it was “not persuaded that refusing a third runway at Heathrow would be helpful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.

“Heathrow’s competitor airports have expanded their runway capacity and have plans to increase flights and passenger numbers. Constraining Heathrow will only shift flights to other European airports.”

However the Committee questioned the need for a second runway at Stansted, and asked ministers “to reconsider whether Gatwick might prove to be a better location for expansion after 2019”.

The Committee also said that it is imperative that any proposed high-speed rail network include links to major airports.

“Provided that good quality airport links are provided, high-speed rail will provide an alternative to some domestic flights, a welcome choice for passengers and strengthen the UK’s major airports. Enhancing rail access to Heathrow will also maximise the economic benefits of the UK’s international gateway airport.”

But the Committee added that as “the number of flights from UK airports to Heathrow is relatively small”… “there is no evidence that high-speed rail offers a viable alternative to expansion of Heathrow”.

The report comes ahead of tomorrow’s Committee on Climate Change report, which will detail how the aviation industry can “sensibly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades”.

Today’s report calls for “decisive action by Government to ensure older and noisier planes are taken out of use promptly”, and said that while it recognised the importance of Air Passenger Duty (APD), “the Government needs to be mindful of the vulnerability of the aviation industry in the current economic climate”… and to “take into account competition from other European airports”.

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Report by Mark Caswell

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