Latest Public Sector News


Airport Commission chooses Heathrow for new runway

A third runway should be built at Heathrow provided it meets with strict conditions on noise and air pollution, recommends the Airport Commission.

The conditions suggested by the commission include a ban on night flights, legally binding caps on noise and air quality and legislation to rule out ever building a fourth runway.

The panel, led by economist Sir Howard Davies, finally handed down its decision after three years of work to finally settle the controversy over where airport expansion in the south east should take place.

Sir Howard insisted that a new runway at Heathrow would deliver the greatest benefits to the UK.

It could generate up to £147bn for the economy over 60 years and 70,000 new jobs by 2050, he said.

However, at a cost of £17.6bn, it is also the most expensive and politically contentious of the three shortlisted options.

The second option at Heathrow, to extend the northern runway, was found to deliver similar economic benefits at less cost and would require the loss of fewer homes. But it was also deemed to provide a smaller increase in capacity and less attractive from a noise and air quality perspective.

The commission said that the Gatwick scheme is “feasible”, but is worried that the additional capacity would be more focused on short-haul intra-European routes and would result in smaller economic benefits.

Gatwick could still have an edge on Heathrow, however, as heavy political pressure is likely to be put on the government to reject any Heathrow proposal.

Prominent government members, including cabinet members Justine Greening and Philip Hammond, as well as the London mayor Boris Johnson, have all spoken out against expansion. MPs of all parties from constituencies around Heathrow, as well the remaining Liberal Democrats and Greens, are also opposed.

Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that a third runway would be a "precursor" for a fourth runway in the future, saying the commission's call for a law to rule a fourth one out was a "fiction".

"This is the sort of thing you could have got away with in China in the 1950s," he said, adding that the impact in terms of the environment and noise would be "so huge" that it was "not deliverable".

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP released a statement confirming his department had received the report but said it would take time to carefully consider what it says before making any decisions.

Sir Howard Davies encouraged the government to give the decision careful thought but not take too long in doing so.

“Further delay will be increasingly costly and will be seen, nationally and internationally, as a sign that the UK is unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected, open trading economy in the twenty-first century,” he said.

Talking further on the decision, Davies said: “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.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >