Four new runways should be built west of London Heathrow, a report by a leading thinktank has claimed.
Policy Exchange rules out a new four-runway hub on the Thames Estuary, and also rules out four runways at Stansted.
The report – Bigger and Quieter: The Right Answer for Aviation – says the next best option after expansion at Heathrow, would be four runways at London Luton, but author, Tim Leunig adds that Luton’s location is “not as strong”.
The expansion at Heathrow would see its current runways scrapped with four new runways extending west.
Leunig says: “The proposal would double the existing capacity to 130 million 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 does not rule out the current proposal – to build a third runway to the north of Heathrow – but claims less people would be affected by aircraft noise if the four runways were located three kilometres to the west of the airport.
Approximately 700 properties would need to be demolished, Leunig adds, compared to the 1,400 needed for an airport on the Thames Estuary.
He estimates that, because his proposal reuses existing terminals and infrastructure, the price is likely to be around half that of a new airport.
Leunig writes: “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 estuary airport is too hard to get to for too many people. The environmental and construction challenges are also much harder to overcome than at Heathrow.”
London Mayor, Boris Johnson, who favours the Thames Estuary Solution, yesterday, launched his own inquiry into airport capacity.
The UK Government has also set up an independent consultation, the results of which will be published in 2015, after the next General Election.
Written by @SteveThompsonAM