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Airports Commission backs Heathrow expansion and new north-west runway

Airports Commission backs Heathrow expansion and new north-west runway

Simon Meechan

The Airports Commission's final report recommends expanding Heathrow to boost Britain's airport capacity.

The report, which was published today, backs a plan to build a new, third runway to the north-west of  the London airport.

It says a new runway would create 70,000 new jobs by 2050 and allow for flights to 40 new destinations.

One of the other proposals was to extend Heathrow's northern runway, which would cost less and lead to fewer homes being demolished.

But it favours a new north-west runway, with the Airports Comission saying a northern runway extension 'provides a smaller increase in capacity and is less attractive from a noise and air quality perspective'.

Expanding Gatwick was another idea which the commission looked into.

It said: "The Gatwick scheme is feasible, but the additional capacity would be more focused on short-haul intra-European routes and the economic benefits considerably smaller."

It adds: "The Commission’s recommendation is a fundamentally different proposition from previous proposals to expand at Heathrow. It delivers a full-length runway, maximising the connectivity gain. It is situated further west than the current runways, which will help to reduce the number of people affected by noise."

The commission has a series of ideas for how to combat disruption for Heathrow's neighbours. These include banning flights between 11.30am and 6am, which it says is 'only possible through expansion'.

Other measures include a commitment to no fourth runway, funding nosie insulation for nearby homes and a legal commitment on air quality.

Airports Commission chair, Sir Howard Davies said: “Over the past two and a half years, the Airports Commission has reviewed the evidence without preconceptions, consulted widely, and followed an inclusive and integrated process. At the end of this extensive work programme our conclusions are clear and unanimous: the best answer is to expand Heathrow’s capacity through a new Northwest Runway.

“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.

“Adding capacity at Heathrow also provides an opportunity to change the airport’s relationship with its local communities as some overseas airports have done. To make expansion possible the Commission recommends a comprehensive package of accompanying measures including a ban on night flights and a new noise levy to fund a far stronger and more generous set of compensation and mitigation schemes. And as there is no environmental or operational case for a fourth runway, the Government should take action in Parliament to rule it out firmly and finally."

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