The UK Airports Commission has recommended the construction of a new northwest runway at the Heathrow Airport, in its final report on the expansion of the country’s aviation capacity.
The commission argued that the new runway at Heathrow offers maximum benefits to the economy as it would lead to the introduction of 40 new destinations from the airport and create more than 70,000 new jobs by 2050.
A new runway at Heathrow would be less costly and require the removal of lesser homes, and will not increase noise above current levels, the report observed.
Headed by Howard Davies, the commission submitted the final recommendation after conducting a three-year study that explored three proposals including the extension of an existing runway at Heathrow, construction of a third runway at Heathrow, and a new second runway at Gatwick Airport.
Davies said: "Heathrow is best-placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets.
"It provides the greatest benefits for business passengers, freight operators and the broader economy."
This proposal is slightly different from the previous proposal as the commission suggests that a new full-length runway should be constructed further west than the existing runways so as to minimise the number of people getting affected by the noise.
The report also listed several measures including the ban on all scheduled night flights from 11.30pm and 6am, and the introduction of a new aviation noise levy to fund an expanded programme of mitigation, including noise insulation for homes, schools and other community facilities.
According to the report, the proposal of a new runway at Gatwick was feasible, but the economic gains from the expansion would be lesser and it would be more focused on short-haul intra-European routes.
The report has estimated that the new Heathrow runway will have the potential to generate up to £147bn in over the next 60 years.
Heathrow welcomed the report while Gatwick airport said that it believed the government would choose expansion at their airport owing to the challenges that had been listed by the report regarding the Heathrow expansion.
The UK Government has said that the report of the independent commission is not binding on their decision.
The Guardian quoted a cabinet source as saying: "The commission will make its recommendation. We will make the decision."
The report drew mixed responses from the industry. UK-based general union GMB said there was an immediate need to expand both the Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
The UK unit of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) noted that the expansion of Heathrow would be the worst option.
WWF-UK CEO David Nussbaum said: "Expanding Heathrow would be the worst outcome for the environment.
"It would lead to the greatest increases in noise, in air pollution, and in climate-damaging CO2 emissions."
Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye said: "Our new plans have been designed around the needs of local communities and will meet carbon, air quality and noise targets, and provide the greatest benefit to the UK’s connectivity and its long term economic growth."
Image: The Airports Commission’s report said that Heathrow’s expansion had the potential to generate up to £147bn in over the next 60 years. Photo: courtesy of LHR Airports.