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Thoughts from the think tanks

A couple of think tanks (Policy Exchange and Centre Forum)
have got their heads together to produce a thoughtful and
thought-provoking analysis of possible solutions to aviation capacity in
the south-east.

The best approach would be to build a new four
runway Heathrow, immediately west of the current site. These new runways
would replace the existing runways. This would be straightforward to
construct, and relatively low cost by the standards of hub airports. A
combination of tightening permitted noise classes, ending night flights
and landing narrow bodied planes more steeply makes it almost certain
that this airport would be significantly quieter than the existing
airport, despite catering for almost twice as many flights.

Leaving the airport where it is works for air traffic control. It
also works for the wider economy: companies that have located near to
the airport because they need to be near the airport do not have to
move. The design of airport proposed here would be operationally
efficient for both passengers and airlines, and would be the world’s
best hub.

Bigger and Quieter: The right answer for aviation

Synopsis

Bigger and Quieter: The right answer for aviation examines all
of the options for increasing airport capacity in the UK. It supports
placing four runways immediately west of the current Heathrow site. This
would double the existing capacity to 130million passengers, cementing
it as Europe’s premier hub. If this was politically unfeasible, then a
four runway airport at Luton would be the next best option.

The report says that the UK needs a new hub airport located in the
South East which has spare capacity to accommodate the likely increase
in demand, especially to cope with the rise in middle class travellers
from emerging markets.

It doesn’t rule out the current proposal to build a third runway to
the north of Heathrow, but claims that less people would be affected by
aircraft noise if the four runways were instead located 3km to the west
of Heathrow.

To reduce the effect of noise the report proposes:

  • A complete ban on the noisiest aircraft at all times, rather than
    just at night. Airlines would have to ensure their fleet complied with
    new decibel measures by the time the new runways were ready for use
  • Imposing a complete ban on night flights. The increase in the number
    of slots available would mean no planes would arrive or depart between
    11pm and 6:15am
  • Landing narrow bodied planes at a steeper angle as they already do
    at London City airport. This again means they are higher over any part
    of West London on their descent. For example, a plane would be 925m
    rather than 260m above Hounslow
  • In addition, moving the airport west means planes will be higher over London than at present

Because the proposal reuses existing terminals and infrastructure,
the price is likely to be around half that of Foster’s proposal for an
estuary airport. Approximately 700 properties would need to be
demolished compared to the 1,400 that would need to go to make way for
the estuary airport. The cost and ease of travel to Heathrow as well as
the fact many businesses are already located near the current airport
makes it the most suitable site.

The report says that other than Heathrow, Luton is the best located
London airport. It is close to a high quality, four track rail line that
goes to London St Pancras in 21 minutes as well as to key cities in the
Midlands. It is also close to the M1, arguably Britain’s most important
road. If expanding Heathrow is politically unfeasible, Leunig proposes a
four runway Luton Hub with two terminals, the first adjoining the M1,
the second the Midland Main Line rail route. The disadvantage of Luton
over Heathrow is that the terrain is much more challenging, and the
location is not as strong.

The paper rules out:

  • Foster + Partners estuary airport (aka “Boris Island”) as it is too
    hard to get to for too many people. The environmental and construction
    challenges are also much harder to overcome than at Heathrow
  • Connecting Heathrow and Gatwick to become a single hub. The two
    airports are 25 miles apart meaning that a direct high speed rail link
    would cost approximately £15 billion
  • A four runway airport at Gatwick. The costs are higher than for
    Heathrow, and the location is not as good. Instead Gatwick should
    consolidate its position as a good quality base for point to point
    traffic geared towards leisure travel and short haul flights
  • A four runway airport at Stansted. Like the estuary airport
    proposal, Stansted suffers from a poor location, with a weak hinterland
    and slow connections to London and the rest of the country

Friday, 05 October 2012. 

Read the FULL report below:

Bigger and Quieterhttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/109133083/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-2m5j9f21zj9e4pu9eg0n

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  1. Hmmm, maybe the ‘why not Manston’ brigade will listen to an independent think tank on the subject of air travel expansion in the South? Probably not.I passed Manston the other day and the car park had less cars than the Petrol Garage at the top of Nethercourt Hill. No wonder they want to sell it.[Rob]