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Will the Third Runway Take-off?
Report by Andre (Editor), Andrew (Sub-Editor), Charlie (News Editor) & Gavin (Photo Editor) 8B News Reporters (Video): Jack & Jon
| The government is progressing well with its plans to expand London’s Heathrow Airport, and is ready to wipe an entire village of 700 homes off the map.The project consists of a 2,200m third runway built north of Heathrow by 2020, and a sixth terminal, which will require the destruction of an entire village.
Sipson, the village which is to be demolished, has a handful of shops which serve the estimated 2,000 inhabitants. Every lamppost in the village is marked with a poster saying “NO” to the project, while campaigning signs are placed in most front gardens.
But Heathrow’s owners, British Airports Authority (BAA) remarks that it’s imperative that the development continues to advance. Transport minister, Geoff Hoon said it was vital to “ensuring that this country remains an attractive place to do business.” Critics say that over 50 communities will suffer from increased noise.
The government says it would have to be confident that any expansion would be able to comply with EU limits on air pollution and would not breach limits on the size of the area affected by aircraft noise.
‘Deprived of peace’
The 2M group, which represent 12 authorities in the Heathrow area, says that the project will mean 900 extra flights a day, resulting in increased noise for several towns and communities ranging from Maidenhead, eastwards to Kensington & Chelsea in Central London.
|Below: Projected noise footprints for Heathrow expansion (Source BBC, Department for Transport)|
2002 Recent noise footprint showing sound at 57 decibels - the point at which the government says noise becomes “a community annoyance”. There were 466,000 Air Transport Movements (ATMs) in 2002; defined as a plane taking off or landing.
2015 Estimated noise contours if planes were taking off and landing on both of Heathrow’s runways is 540,000 ATMs a year, but before a third runway is built.
|Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrats’ transport spokeswoman, whose Richmond Park constituency is among those affected, said the plans would steal people in west London of the “half day of peace” they currently get.
She added: “At a time of climate change, with aviation having such a big impact, shouldn’t we be completely rethinking this and putting that kind of investment into rail?”
But the GMB union said expansion was needed because the current infrastructure was worn out and a major cause of delays to flights.
David Frost, of the British Chambers of Commerce, added: “Heathrow expansion is one of the fundamental infrastructure projects necessary to keep the country competitive.”
Many also argue that as Heathrow being the UK’s airport hub, it should be able to expand to be able to operate with the growing demand. At the moment Heathrow is operating at around 99% capacity compared to around 75% at its European rivals.
|Airport operator BAA’s chief executive Stephen Nelson told BBC Radio 4’s today programme, “It’s been over capacity for 17 years, it handling 60,000 more passengers a day than it was built for – that puts us under extraordinary pressure.”
BA has argued a third runway could be worth £9bn a year to the UK economy.
But, John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK remarked that, “The economic costs of climate change will dwarf any profits business might make from a third runway”.