Labour MP slams his own party as opposition to the Third Runway Grows
Last week saw the culmination of the Airports Commission Consultation in to expansion at Heathrow Airport and with it increased activity from those who oppose construction of the Third Runway.
The Commission is currently looking at three options to increase aviation capacity in the south of England – A new Northern Runway at Heathrow, an extension to one of the existing runways at Heathrow to enable it to operate as two, or a second runway at Gatwick.
With the deadline for submissions to the Commission being 3rd February, Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell called a public meeting in Sipson on the evening of 29th January to lay out what the proposals on the table were and how to respond to the consultation.
Around seventy people attended the event at Heathrow Primary School, including seasoned anti expansion campaigners and local councillors amongst the residents who were looking for an update.
The MP started the meeting and ran through the reasons why we should be opposing the new runway, backed up with a handout of copies of HACAN’s ’20 Frequently asked questions’.
The familiar figure of ‘Stop Heathrow Expansion’ chairman Neil Keveren followed and pointed out that many such as himself had made life choices based around David Cameron’s promise that there would be no third runway during the general election campaign of 2010.
The introduction was then followed by a Q&A session from the floor, with a number of valid points being raised. One gentleman, who I was to bump in to again the following week, brought up the state of the properties that Heathrow still owned from their last abortive bid to expand the airport – Managed by local estate agents Campsies, there has been little attempt to keep them in good order and they are starting to look shabby and run down. His own property suffers from blown plaster, leaky taps and damaged double glazing but efforts to get this fixed have been met with little co-operation. The consensus in the hall was that as little as possible is being spent to both maximise profits and to make the area look run down and therefore not such a loss if construction goes ahead.
Likewise, Heathrow Airport Ltd are happy to let properties to transient workers via the agency which John McDonnell said breaks down the unique community spirit in some of the villages. It was suggested that if the runway is beaten again, these properties should be sold back in to the community in a similar way to which the then BAA sold back purchased properties when their expansion of Stansted was turned down.
Council residents will be particularly hard hit if a Third Runway comes about – There will be no compensation for loss of their houses, with right to buy currently suspended in this part of the borough so that speculators can’t get their hands on property that they can then up-bid the Airport on. With lack of council property in the area, most would have to move away.
A gentleman from the back then asked John McDonnell where his party stands on Heathrow expansion, to which he received a reply of , “I don’t trust them”, then clarified with the follow up of, “I don’t trust any of them”. Whilst there is no doubt that Mr McDonnell is genuine in his opposition to Heathrow Expansion, he had already stated at a previous meeting that pressure needs to be brought to bear on the major parties in the UK to make them lay out their position on the issue.
Whilst this was not a politically aligned meeting, the current positions laid out on the night showed that Labour will not give an answer on where they stand this side of the election, Lib-Dems look to be favouring Gatwick whilst only UKIP and the Green Party have made it clear that they are opposed to the Third Runway. In 2010, David Cameron stated ‘No if’s, no buts, no third runway’ (See election leaflet below left)- A position that the Conservative Party are now shying away from, waiting until The Davies Commission gives its report in the Summer after the upcoming General Election.
Again, this was brought up on the night and the opinion in the room seemed to be that the Conservatives are refusing to clarify where they stand for fear of it costing them votes, with the delayed report being a convenient shield to fudge behind.
In order to remind The Prime Minister of his previous pledge, a demonstration was planned at Westminster to coincide with the end of the consultation on 3rd February where a petition was to be handed in at No 10 by a combination of MP’s, local campaigners and residents from across London.
Stop Heathrow Expansion go to Westminster
With freezing weather and a dusting of snow on the ground first thing in the morning, I contacted Neil at S.H.E to make sure that the coach that was being laid on from Harmondsworth was still leaving at the agreed time – Once confirmed, I took no chances and set off early to make sure the 222 Bus Route had not been affected.
Arriving in the cold an hour early, I was happy to bump in to Neil who invited me in to his house for a cup of coffee with other activists whilst we awaited arrival of our transport. Here I saw proof of what he had said about people making lifestyle choices based on Cameron’s 2010 promise – His kitchen is midway through upgrade, whilst other recent work was in evidence. One of the activists joked that we should be campaigning to save Neil’s kitchen!
The coach arrived fifteen minutes early, and around thirty people climbed on board for the trip to London. More activists were expected to meet us there from other parts of the Capital, as well as a number of MP’s and representatives of HACAN Clearskies and Plane Stupid.
An uneventful trip saw us arriving outside the gates of Downing Street just before 1pm, where myself and SHE campaigner Albert were tasked with holding one of the banners whilst photographs were taken.(In picture below to the right, flat cap and brown trousers) We were pitched up opposite the statue of Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, but a Police motorcycle officer asked us to retire to the other side of the road where a demonstration area was set up in front of the statue. This we did, but not before the arrival of the first of the MP’s who were going to hand in the petition – Zac Goldsmith, John McDonnell, Mary McLeod and John Randall. John Stewart and Rob Barnstone from HACAN arrived around about the same time.
With national media descending, some ad hoc singing started, soon organised by campaigners and John Stewart in to a chant of ‘No If’s, No But’s, No Third Runway’. A gentleman I have seen before from Friends of the Earth paced around the group with his pipe and walking stick urging everyone to raise their voices.
With the allotted time of 2PM for handing in of the petition fast approaching, the tall figure of Windsor MP Adam Afriyie joined us before making his way across the road and joining the group being ushered through the gates.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Third Runway supporter Ed Balls MP scurrying past our position and challenged him with a shout of ‘oppose the third runway, Mr Balls!’ Whilst he didn’t look up, his pace seemed to quicken somewhat!
Whilst this was going on, the delegation presented the petition and were photographed outside the front door of No 10. (Above)
Kate Hoey MP had also joined the group, although I failed to see her entrance or exit from the venue – The coach came back and picked us up for the return journey to Harmondsworth just after 2.30PM.
A point well made
Small and targeted demonstrations such as this defeated the spectre of the Third Runway the last time around. Despite the vast resources ranged against residents who are opposed to expansion by both Heathrow Airport Ltd and it’s lobbying front group, Back Heathrow, this is a battle that can be won again.
If you would like to get involved, there are a number of non-political groups who are highly active in their opposition – Most notably HACAN and Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE). Their websites can be visited via the following links –
HACAN – http://hacan.org.uk/
In terms of Environmental Groups, both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are active against Heathrow expansion, whilst local organisation ‘Grow Heathrow’ have taken waste land in the vicinity of the airport and turned it in to a sustainable community.
On the political side, UKIP are committed to opposing a Third Runway at Heathrow whilst keeping the airport open in its two runway format to protect local jobs. If you are against Heathrow Expansion but for local prosperity, then UKIP have a vision and policy in place for General Election 2015 – Voting for the old parties who refuse to tell you where they stand will continue the blight and uncertainty that affects the south of our borough.
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: John Stewart <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Sent: Monday, 10 March 2014, 9:52
Subject: Today’s Times; today’s Standard
Very useful story in today’s Times. And also this in the Standard: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/heathrow-bosses-admit-third-runway-is-divisive-as-public-consultation-closes-91808
Heathrow expansion would reduce number of flights, says secret study
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A fourth runway at Heathrow would significantly reduce the number of flights in the South East, according to confidential analysis that has been described as a “game-changer” by opponents of the airport’s expansion.
In a private submission to the Airports Commission, Nats, the air traffic control service, calculated “conflicting arrival and departure flows” and concluded that building a fourth runway in West London would reduce the combined capacity of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Birmingham, City and Southend airports by 9 per cent.
It would cut capacity relative to a three-runway Heathrow by 18 per cent because of the disruption to flight paths to the other main airports.
Those against Heathrow expansion said that the analysis, seen by The Times, was a “game-changer” in the debate over airport expansion as it undermined the long-term case for doubling the size of the country’s biggest airport.
Opponents, including Boris Johnson and local residents’ groups, claim that a third runway would be a “Trojan Horse” opening the way for another and subjecting more than a million people to unacceptable noise pollution.
The government-backed commission that will decide where to build the next runway has put two possible configurations for a third runway at Heathrow and a second runway at Gatwick on its shortlist. Sir Howard Davies, head of the commission, said that a third runway could be built by 2030 but it would be full by 2050.
The commission has excluded a fourrunway Heathrow from its shortlist, but the airport’s £31 billion blueprint for expansion includes options to build two new runways. In its submission, Heathrow said that a third runway would meet the demand for air travel to 2040 but that from 2030 a decision would have to be taken on a fourth. Mr Johnson said: “A third runway at Heathrow would be followed by a fourth as surely as night follows day, and if our air traffic experts believe that will result in less overall aviation capacity rather than more, then that is yet another starkly obvious reason why expansion at Heathrow is a total no-go.”
The Nats report, submitted to the commission last November, concluded that construction of a fourth runway would cut the maximum possible number of flights into the main airports to 1,550,000 from 1,680,000.
Flights at Gatwick, Stansted and Luton would be reduced by 50 per cent. London City would see a 25 per cent reduction.
John Stewart, chairman of the campaign group Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise, said: “The fear locally must be that if demand does increase, a third runway will effectively become a Trojan Horse for a fourth runway. That is genuinely a new fact which could be a game-changer.”
The Nats analysis highlights the difficulties of turning Heathrow into a “megahub” airport, but also points to potential limitations of a new hub in the Thames Estuary. It could increase total airport capacity by just 6 per cent, because of the closure of Heathrow, City and Southend airports. However, if runways were tilted to run northeastsouthwest, the airport would increase total capacity by 24 per cent.
Supporters of the scheme say that Nats has underestimated the potential benefits because it assumes that a new hub would face the same constraints as Heathrow, operating between 06:00 and 23:00. Because far fewer people would be affected by noise, it could operate 24 hours a day, resulting in a far greater capacity increase, they argue.
Sir Howard will make his final recommendation three months after the 2015 election.
Three options have been put on the table – A new runway to the North West of the existing airport, an extension of the Northern runway to the west (Allowing it to operate as two separate runways) or a second runway at Gatwick. Sir Howard has also committed to reviewing his decision to rule out an airport in the Thames Estuary, the so-called ‘Boris Island’, later this year – This seems unlikely to make the shortlist.
A Political hot potato
The threat of a third runway at Heathrow is not new – The Blair government were committed to the project, but local residents won out through dedicated and active campaign groups such as NOTRAG and HACAN, with support and assistance from local Labour MP John McDonnell. The people of Hillingdon spoke loudly and were heard – Yet the spectre has come back once again.
So, where do the politicians nationally stand on the issue of expansion?
David Cameron promised that there would be no new runways during the duration of this parliament, which comes to an end in May next year. Interestingly enough, Sir Howard Davies was reported as saying this week that he could have delivered a full report on a shorter timetable but had been asked to delay his findings by the coalition government.(Source – Daily Telegraph)
With Chancellor George Osborne known to be a supporter of Heathrow expansion, could this be a ‘fudge’ so that a policy that could harm Tory re-election prospects is kicked in to the long grass? It would also be massively unpopular with at least two Tory MP’s whose constituencies would suffer in Zac Goldsmith and Adam Afriyie, both of whom have been consistent in their opposition to the third runway.
London mayor Boris Johnson has been very vocal in demanding a completely new airport in the Thames Estuary, and attacked both the Davies Commission and the Commons Transport Committee in very strong terms for ruling it out recently, criticism that resulted in Davies using the term ‘vulgar abuse’. Expect more toys to be thrown out of the pram if Boris doesn’t get his own way with his unaffordable and impractical vanity project going forward.
The original proponents of the third runway, they have officially dropped the idea and are thought to favour new runways at Gatwick or Stansted according to HACAN. (This would make sense, as neither are traditional Labour areas and in theory it would not be too damaging to them nationally at the ballot box)
However, shadow chancellor Ed Balls is known to favour Heathrow expansion and two key union backers in the GMB and Unite have both publicly backed it. Leader Ed Miliband was vehemently against during the final term of the last Labour government, but his stance appears to have softened with a recent statement that he has ‘yet to be convinced’ of the case for Heathrow expansion. Maybe the threat of the withdrawal of Len McCluskey’s wallet may ‘convince’ him in the coming months, although again he will be painfully aware that an unpopular policy could bite at the General Election.
Local Hayes & Harlington MP John McDonnell (Above) is a vociferous opponent of Heathrow expansion, which could put him once again on a collision course with party command should the union bosses get their way.
Opposed to all airport expansion in their 2010 general election manifesto, leader Nick Clegg recently indicated on his LBC radio phone in show that the position may have changed and he could be in favour of a second runway at Gatwick. Party heavyweight Vince Cable remains firmly opposed to Heathrow expansion, which would directly affect his South London constituency
Clegg backed up his statement by saying that Davies sees more growth in point to point flights rather than long distance ‘hub’ solutions, which puts him at odds with his own coalition partners who have stated on numerous occasions that the lack of a ‘superhub airport’ is damaging to our trade with emerging industrial powerhouses such as India, China and Brazil.
Totally against all airport expansion (Unsurprisingly) – No ‘plan B’ if it is shown that there is demand for additional flights.
Working together locally to stop the third runway
Shortly after the Interim announcement, local meetings were convened to rally support against the third runway.
UKIP Hillingdon postponed our event and attended a non-aligned meeting with cross organisational support in Harlington on 16th January organised by John McDonnell.
Nearly 100 people turned out on a wind and rain swept evening to hear speeches and swap ideas with John Randall MP, NOTRAG’s Christine Taylor and a very late arriving John McDonnell, who had been caught in traffic and initially relayed information to the meeting via phone through his assistant Helen Lowder (Below – I myself arrived over half an hour late due to a combination of work and a serious accident on the M4)
Noise, pollution and blight were all subjects that were high in the minds of the local residents at the meeting, with questions surrounding the ability of the existing road and rail infrastructure to cope with more people arriving on flights also aired. Our Heathrow Villages spokesman, Bryan, also pointed out to Mr McDonnell the Ed Balls support for Heathrow which elicited a response of “Leave Ed Balls to me” – I would pay good money to be a fly on the wall when that conversation takes place!
I myself made 2 points to the meeting – Firstly, that many residents in London who are not currently affected by noise from Heathrow will be should the expansion go ahead, and those communities and their MP’s need to be made very aware of it. (It would appear that some of the activists at the event are already working on this)
Secondly, in response to a gentleman talking about the roads disruption and the possible closure of the M25 during construction work causing massive delays and extra pollution – If the third runway goes ahead, then a spur will be run from the proposed HS2 high speed rail line to the airport, most likely running through West Drayton and Iver. This makes the two projects symbiotic – An HS2 link is already listed on the third runway plans, so this project going ahead gives extra weight to the campaign to build this monstrous and unnecessary rail project. Likewise, if HS2 goes ahead then part of the economic case for third runway will be that a high speed rail line exists close to the airport already that is relatively easy to hook up and therefore Heathrow has ‘superior transport links’ over it’s competitors in the airport expansion stakes.
John McDonnell replied that he is for high speed rail (Hardly surprising as he is the RMT union’s parliamentary spokesman) but voted against HS2, and was not aware of any current plans as to where a proposed Heathrow HS2 spur would go. I offered to share with him the draft plans that had been seen by some of the Stop HS2 campaigners – These can be seen on the following link at the bottom of the page
It was generally agreed that we all need to work together to stop Heathrow expansion irrespective of our political allegiances, which made the report that came in from the council meeting that night almost surreal
Hillingdon Council backs Heathrow Closure
The local Labour opposition group on the council proposed a motion for a ‘better, not bigger, Heathrow’ – Essentially, to oppose the Third runway whilst working to make sure that jobs are not lost by a gradual rundown of the existing airport.
Rather than discussing the proposal, which on the face of it seems reasonable, the ruling Conservative Group unanimously voted to close the airport – Council leader Ray Puddifoot’s (Pictured left)’Third Way’ as reported by Jack Griffith in our local Gazette.
After hearing of the council meeting, my UKIP Hillingdon colleague Jack Duffin received the below tweet from Tory Cllr Dominic Gilham after he enquired as to what was going on
“Heathrow have said without expansion it will close, so it’s a clear choice What do you support as do nothing is not an option?”
A strange tweet, but also quite revealing – Cllr Gilham is essentially saying that unless you expand Heathrow it has to close, a tactic that the airport has been using to try and bully the third runway through.
This also poses the question – Do the council really want expansion and the closure threat is their way of justifying a potential change of heart should a 3rd runway be Tory policy AFTER the general election and in line with the full report from The Davies Commission? If so, this is a very risky strategy – Heathrow Airport Ltd’s Colin Matthews has already stated live on LBC radio to claims that a third runway would be inadequate and a fourth would need to be built immediately after it’s completion that they will do that if required.
Alternatively, with Cllr Puddifoot already having stated in the press previously that he was comfortable with Heathrow closure, are they jockeying to assist Boris Johnson’s Estuary airport and the Mayor’s vision for a high tec based ‘London Borough of Heathrow’? With David Cameron unlikely to survive as Tory leader should they not win the next general election outright, is this an attempt to curry favour with one of his potential replacements?
Either way, the council and indeed their national party should state what their position is and stop playing politics with people’s lives.
We have already seen the council quite rightly opposing the HS2 rail project whilst their national party is recklessly pushing ahead with it – Our two local Tory MP’s, John Randall and Nick Hurd, voted FOR the paving bill that enables money to be allocated to pay for the railway, a clear case of a muddled message that leaves Hillingdon residents unsure of which way their public representatives will react at any given time to their concerns.
As was stated at the public meeting in Harlington, everyone needs to work together to confront and stop Heathrow expansion – We have offered to print leaflets and publicise the upcoming West Drayton third runway meeting that John McDonnell is organising along with our own event in February, which both he and John Randall have been invited to attend (Which they have declined, in John Randalls’ case due to a prior engagement)
It would also be helpful if the major political parties got off of the fence and stated what their intentions are towards airport expansion in the south east and stop hiding behind a delayed report – To start the ball rolling, below is the UKIP policy on aviation in the South of England
UKIP’s alternative to the Third Runway
My thanks to John Stewart of HACAN Clearskies for his update this morning on the disturbing findings of the Davies Commission in to aviation expansion in the south of England, which I reproduce below –
12/11/13 for immediate use
Campaigners furious Davies favours two new runways at Heathrow
“The campaign against the third runway at Heathrow has kicked off today”
Campaigners have reacted with anger and disbelief to the news, leaked today (1), that the Airports Commission Interim Report, to be published on 17th December, favours two more runways at Heathrow. The Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is expected to go for a third runway at Heathrow followed by a fourth Heathrow runway or a second runway at Gatwick. The draft of the report, presented to Chancellor George Osborne, ruled out new runways at Stansted or an Estuary Airport. It is thought, however, that Tuesday’s report may formally retain more options in an attempt to give it some balance.
John Stewart, who chairs HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said, “Davies has put Heathrow front and centre of his thinking. There will be fury across whole swathes of London and the Home Counties. The campaign against a third runway starts today with Davies seen as a busted flush.”
Stewart added, “It is astonishing that Davies has put so much faith in an option he must know is politically the hardest to deliver. The one good thing is that he will force political parties to come out for or against a 3rd runway before the 2015 General Election.”
Geraldine Nicholson, who chaired NoTRAG, (The No Third Runway Action Group), said, “This means that thousands of people stand to lose their homes. If Howard Davies thinks they are going to stand buy and let that happen, he is sorely mistaken.”
Notes for Editors: (1). http://gu.com/p/3y52k/tw
(sources subsequently confirmed to HACAN that the Guardian article is broadly correct)
Third Runway exists in Manston, Kent
The following letter was published in the Uxbridge editions of The Gazette this week (With slight amendments to fit the size limits)
With the future of commercial aviation in England now in the spotlight, many options are being put forward by government advisors and various think tanks as to how our country can remain at the forefront of this expanding business.
The Third Runway? This will mean destroying an entire community in Sipson and the Heathrow Villages, bring more noise and pollution to an area that already has some of the worst air quality in the country and will pile extra pressure on transport links that struggle to keep up with the volumes of traffic and travellers already put upon them.
Boris Island? Massively expensive, sat in the middle of a main air corridor (The equivalent of putting a bus stop on a motorway), positioned next to a nature reserve so prone to bird strike on vulnerable aircraft engines and will require major development of transport links. Activation would also see the closure of Heathrow and a huge knock on effect to local businesses and jobs in Hillingdon.
West London four runway hub? Same issues as the third runway at Heathrow, just substitute destruction of different communities.
Gatwick or Stansted? Substantial construction works required, inadequate links and runways too short for the largest aircraft.
So, to remain competitive but limit damage to communities and the environment, what is the answer? Firstly, look at the ‘Grandfather rights’ granted to airlines on slots at Heathrow and how some of the airlines fill them with empty aircraft just to deny airspace to their rivals. Secondly, the perfect ‘third runway’ already exists at Manston in Kent which is a designated divert airfield for Heathrow in case of emergency and can handle the largest of aircraft.
Manston is an existing commercial airport which can easily be linked to the HS1 railway and the Channel Tunnel providing fast access to both the continent and Central London and is close to road links from the major ports in Kent. For a fraction of the cost of the other options, Manston can be converted in to a main hub airport to complement Heathrow and provide capacity for the 21st century.
UKIP oppose expansion at Heathrow via a third runway and will be campaigning to support a referendum amongst the communities affected to give them their say on how this issue is resolved.
We will also lobby for the common sense solutions that we are putting forward to provide affordable answers to our country’s air transport requirements.
The revival of a monster?
There has been talk of the defeated third runway project at Heathrow being revived recently, with the national press stating that Chancellor George Osborne has been looking at the pro’s and con’s once again.
According to reports last month, a number of British business leaders have written in to the government claiming that the runway is essential for business growth – They are backed by large corporations such as Microsoft and the Spanish owned telecoms company Telefonica O2, who have signed the letter. Colin Matthews, chief executive of airport owner BAA has also signed, a sure signal that expansion is back on their agenda – It also appears to have the approval of Wille Walsh, high profile CEO of International Airlines Group (British Airways parent company) who has almost challenged the government to act by claiming that they ‘lacked the balls’ to re-open the discussion.
Worryingly, trade union leader Len McCluskey of UNITE and Mick Rix of the GMB Union have also spoken of the need for the runway to ‘protect jobs’ in the face of Mayor Boris Johnson’s plan for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary.
On the political side, The Telegraph reported on 3rd March that thirty Conservative MP’s headed up by neighbouring Spelthorne MP Kwasi Kwarteng (Below right) are backing the plan – Independent London Mayoral Candidate Siobhan Benita also supports the Third Runway in her manifesto.
We lived in the shadow of this project in Hillingdon when it was discussed before, and due to the tireless efforts of the likes of NOTRAG (No to Third Runway Group) and HACAN (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) with some input from local politicians, the plan was defeated.
However, BAA have retained their ownership of many of the houses around Heathrow Villages that they bought during the initial attempt to get permission for third runway and it is worrying that they show no signs of releasing them back in to the market to help tackle the homes crisis that we have in the Borough. Will they once again try to get this monstrosity through and use the state of some of the housing that they have left to fall in to disrepair as an excuse?
I wrote in to The Uxbridge Gazette last week expressing my concern over the possibility of the runway plan being resurrected in response to an article by their reporter, James Cracknell,in the March 28th edition – They very kindly published it in this week’s edition edited down to fit the maximum size allowed on the letters page.
Below is the full text of that letter, which outlines some of the alternatives available. It should be noted that UKIP stand both nationally and locally against the Third Runway (As we do against HS2) , but that the solutions put below are just some of my own thoughts as to how we can get around the problems of increasing capacity whilst causing the minimum of damage to communities and the environment.
One thing is for certain – If the Government do decide that a third runway at Heathrow is part of their transport plans, they will be walking in to a storm of protest from the local community who have won this fight once before, and can do so again!
I read with concern your story concerning the resurrection of the Third Runway idea at Heathrow. (Uxbridge Gazette March 28th)
That George Osbourne is even looking at reviving the idea shows how out of touch the government is both with the wishes of the people of Hillingdon and with the realities of the scheme, both in terms of sufficient infrastructure and damage to the local environment.
The road network around the airport struggles to cope with the volumes of traffic from the two runways as it is, and adding a third will make an already difficult journey for passengers unbearable – Maybe this is a way of justifying Stage 2 of the HS2 rail project and the ‘Heathrow Spur’ that will devastate the south of our borough?
The third runway option also overlooks the alternatives that are available for extra capacity within the existing network . Much of the airport capacity at Heathrow is taken up with ‘grandfather rights’ granted many years ago to airlines, who are not making the most of the slots available. By revisiting these ‘grandfather rights’ and moving the majority of short haul flights from Heathrow to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted it will free up the slots for the heavier traffic that Heathrow needs as a ‘hub’ airport for the transcontinental flights(Which are the main reason given for building the third runway.) . This proposal has already been put forward by the CPRE (Campaign for Rural England), and would have the happy side-effect of reducing congestion on our local roads as the flight demographic changes to more ‘linking’ flights and less flights originating at Heathrow.
Airlines adopting the larger Airbus A380 aircraft will also see capacity increased via more passengers on the same amount of aircraft.
To complement this, there is also an existing airfield at Manston in Kent that has the longest runway in the south of England, and can accommodate these larger airliners without major construction work needing to be carried out. Manston is already operational and is indeed used as a divert runway by Heathrow in case of emergency. It also has the advantage of not being next to a major wildlife reserve which the proposed ‘Boris Island’ would be, thus avoiding the ongoing problems of all major airports – Bird strike.
Manston can be linked very easily to the nearby HS1 train line, allowing easy access to both central London and the continent via the Channel Tunnel. With the completion of cross rail, it should also be relatively straightforward to travel between the two airports with minor modifications to the infrastructure, giving further capacity to that gained at Heathrow by the re-organisation.
One thing is certain – Third Runway is even more of a liability than the HS2 rail link, with the financials and justifications not stacking up on either. UKIP as a party oppose both projects at a local and a national level.