LondonUnlocked

Thames Estuary hub ‘would need Heathrow to close’

New Projects, The NewsEditor
Estuary Airport Wide

London24 reports on the Independent Transport Commission's report on Britain's aviation infrastructure. You can read the full ITC report here. Below is the executive summary of the report from their website:

The report suggests the most likely sites for an improved hub are Heathrow, Stansted or the Thames Estuary. It recognises that any decision will be contentious and that the Airports Commission and the Government will need to balance many factors. But it highlights 4 major issues:

• Closing Heathrow: the ITC concludes that if a major new hub is developed at Stansted or in the Thames Estuary, there is a high likelihood that Heathrow will need to close. This will have major implications, and needs far more attention than it has yet received.

• Costs and charges: on the basis of preliminary, broad-brush, estimates, the ITC fears that airlines and passengers might face charges at a new Estuary Airport more than twice those for an expanded Heathrow, and two-thirds more than at an expanded Stansted. It is essential that far more robust costings are produced for all options and the implications for charges and international competitiveness clearly understood.

• A new town? Building a major new hub, whether at Stansted or elsewhere, could require urban development including homes, schools, and local transport. The ITC estimates the size of such development would be on the scale of a new Peterborough for a 4-runway hub. This needs to be considered as much as the airport itself.

• Noise is the biggest local issue, particularly for Heathrow. But the report notes that planes are getting quieter and proposes an assessment of whether a package of measures - perhaps including moving the runways westward - would enable Heathrow to provide the extra connectivity needed while also reducing the problem of noise for Londoners.

The report has been submitted to the Davies Commission. It's certainly worth a read and is a very useful contribution to the debate. However, it does serve to highlight that no matter which way the Commission's verdict falls, a bold political decision will have to be taken. The question is, are our leaders up to it?

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Meanwhile, if all this gets you down, how about taking in some Thames Estuary inspired art?