While it is disappointing that the Commission’s first recommendation for a third runway at Heathrow reflects a backward looking view of aviation world, there is good reason for optimism. Gatwick remains on the table as a credible and commercially viable option.
With the door open for Gatwick we may finally be closer to a decision and I will be urging the Government to take the opportunity of a generation to choose Gatwick.
Noise comparison at UK airports, Click to enlarge.
One thing is for certain: Britain needs more aviation capacity to remain an open, globally-focussed trading nation. But the decision on expansion needs to take into account a range of issues, including the environment, local communities, feasibility and the needs of Britain’s aviation market.
The argument over noise is often dismissed as small-minded nimbyism. But airplane noise isn’t just a matter of irritation, it is linked to significant productivity losses and health complications such as hypertension, hearing loss, insomnia, mental health challenges and cognitive impairment. We must take this seriously.
While the debate on Britain’s aviation future won’t start in earnest until the final report from the Airport Commission is released in the summer, the fight against the third runway continues.
During the recent election campaigns, local MPs from the main parties won their seats on the back of a pledge to fight Heathrow expansion. This is good news because newly elected MPs must now live up to those pledges in Parliament by making the case that any airport expansion must not include a third runway at Heathrow.