17 NOVEMBER 2014


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Article from BTNews 17 NOVEMBER 2014

COMMENT: Gatwick or Heathrow?

Confused by the latest Airports Commission report published last week to coincide with the Airport Operators Association conference?

So is The Times! 

On the news pages it reports that Heathrow is the favourite for a new runway go-ahead, whilst the business section places Gatwick in the lead position.

The report itself highlights what it deems is a cost under-estimate by both Heathrow projects, and also the Gatwick team.

This is yet to be challenged by any of the three ventures but it is early days yet.

Anyone has 12 weeks to submit comment.

The  London Evening Standard  was kind enough to publish a letter, slightly edited, from your Editor.  Here it is in full.

"Gatwick or Heathrow – where do we go from here?

Forty years ago the Roskill Commission suggested that a new London airport should be built at Cublington – not a million miles from the current HS2 track in Buckinghamshire.  Lobbying and politics got in the way.  Transport planner Sir Colin Buchanan, an undercover environmentalist (later President of the Council for the Protection of Rural England), persuaded Prime Minister Edward Heath that Maplin should be the site.  Harold Wilson then came into power and in February 1974 cancelled the project on economic grounds. 

We have made no progress since then. 

Sir Howard Davies, head of the Commission, tells us that in June the final report will be published.  However we also learn, from Conservative and Labour ministers, that they will not necessarily go along with the recommendations.  Each Party will make its own review. 

But how long will that take?

One month. One year.  Nobody knows.

It is accepted that the South East needs a new runway straight away (in practical terms operational in 10 years' time) and another for the future.

Sir Howard should give the go ahead for two runways, Gatwick and one of the Heathrow offerings.  The airports say that they have the funding.  There is no big strain on the exchequer.  It is a win win situation.  Let big business fight it out.  We have waited too long."

See also ON TOUR: The airport operators gather at the London Metropole

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