No to Heathrow Expansion?

Written by Adrian Hawkins, Co-founder & Chairman biz4Biz, Chairman Weldability Sif established 1925, Herts LEP Main Board, Director and Trustee of the Weldability Sif Foundation, Chairman of the Hart Schools Trust.

The marketing team from Stansted Airport recently attended the “A10/M11 Growth Area Corridor” event staged by the Hertfordshire LEP and advised those present that they had the current capability to increase traffic by 20 million passengers annually, without adding any additional runway. Following this event, I was very surprised to see Sir Howard Davies’ decision that an additional runway was necessary at Heathrow Airport, as this would, during its development, destroy Harmondsworth village, 750 homes and businesses in the process. Similarly, Gatwick have suggested that they are also able to increase their capacity. Given the road and rail investments at both Gatwick and Stansted surely the options for both these Airports make more sense? Yes they are both very much on the outskirts of what will soon be called London, but is their any real benefit to creating yet more hazardous air traffic over the largest city population in the UK?

It is clear that the Heathrow Airport PR machine is in full stride and actively engaging with the broader public around the UK. They have even suggested that the “Northern Powerhouse” will benefit significantly from the work and jobs that an additional runway will create. They certainly will not have the additional noise this will cause nor the risks associated with increased airline traffic. I must say with tongue in cheek, if the work to build Heathrow is likely to migrate north, why not put the new airport in say Sheffield?

I am reminded of the decision to extend the runway to enable the former BAe Brabazon to fly from Bristol in 1946, which led to the Village of Charlton being flattened. Unfortunately that Aircraft never made it very far commercially. Obviously if the capacity exists at Stansted, it would be in this region’s interest, from a local economy and jobs perspective, for that spare capacity to increase. Let alone saving the good people of Harmondsworth from the stress of losing their homes.



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