10 OCTOBER 2016

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Article from BTNews 10 OCTOBER 2016

Heathrow it has to be

The government must not make the same mistake again, says BTN's editor-in-chief Malcolm Ginsberg.

In 1968, the Roskill Commission (formerly the Commission on the Third London Airport) was charged by the then Labour government with finding a site for a new airport for the South East.

Chaired by High Court judge Eustace Roskill, it published its report in January 1971 coming down in favour of a site north of Aylesbury for reasons that are geographically obvious. By now, the Tories, led by Edward Heath, were in charge.  See BTN 23 January 2012"The Maplin Story".

Sad to say, it then became political, with the one dissenter, Sir Colin Buchanan, later to become president of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, gaining the ear of the prime minister and plumping for Maplin, in the Thames estuary. Even then, it was obvious that its location, far from the mainstream of the country and the western and northern corridors, was wrong. Harold Wilson scrapped the scheme. 

Now in 2016, we have the same problem. A recommendation by another Airports Commission, headed this time by Sir Howard Davies. It has come down in favour of an extended Heathrow. Nobody disputes Gatwick is a fine airport, but suffers from the same problem as Maplin, its location  far from the commercial hinterland of England and with only north/south road and rail services. 

The endorsement of Heathrow was unequivocal. To give both airports the go-head will not work. It would be too much of a drain on resources.    

A vote was taken by the United Kingdom to go for Brexit. The new prime minister, a European, had the courage to agree with the majority, or if your like “the national commission”. She should stand by Davies. And everyone should get behind the strategy for the benefit of Britain. The government must not make the same mistake again!

SEE ALSO BTN 3 October,  Heathrow expansion the choice of Regional Aviation

And in today's issue, Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), has his say: www.btnews.co.uk/article/10881

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum


Robert Shaw, United Kingdom

As soon as they can LHR will bin the 'extra' flights from the regions. The airspace above LHR is already one of the most congested in the world. Extra flights will only exacerbate the problem. It has to be Gatwick.


John King, Brough, East Yorkshire

Wonderful? you got through the whole process of supporting LHR without once mentioning the appalling traffic congestion, the destruction of property, the pollution and so on and so on. When the British administration of Hong Kong realised they needed a new airport they built one. When the French needed a new Paris airport they built one. If they all got it right why are we still mucking about with a WW2 airfield hemmed in by tens of thousands of houses and kidding ourselves it will be alright?


Jackie Watkins, UK

I live in the Midlands, getting to either Heathrow or Gatwick is a nightmare, at least a 3 hour journey plus arriving 2-3 prior to flight departure. for early morning flights we end up staying in overpriced and tired hotels, for a late return we can stay in aforementioned hotels or exhaustedly drive home. Nor can I see a third runway at Heathrow particularly improving the current problems of an overloaded airport with poor transport links except to other parts of London. We regularly fly to & from other parts of the world and always seem to end up using London airports as others don't serve those places. Personally I would look to expand capacity at Birmingham (Sorry but same comments above apply to Manchester !). But whatever the decision please can someone get on with it, it has been rumbling on for so long we must look pretty indecisive in the eyes of the rest of the world. Not wishing to change direction ..but what about HS2....I don't really care which party is in power, please just get on with it and allow the rest of the country to get connected. Jackie


Colin Hobbs, UK

Heathrow's unique attribute is its connectivity to almost 200 destinations around the world and its associated transit/ransfer passengers. LGW, fine airport, has never managed this in all its history, major scheduled carriers in general serving it only until slots at LHR become available. London needs LHR for its international status.


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