Heathrow expansion

By | Category: Travel news

Yesterday, Heathrow announced its plans for a third runway. It will involve the loss of over 700 homes, disruption to the surrounding roads and motorways and a lot of infrastructure construction.

panoramic view of Heathrow
Heathrow showing, to the north, where a new runway will go.

A few days earlier, Extinction Rebellion – the environmental group of activists – announced that they wouldn’t go ahead with their drone disruption of the airport. But they also said that the airport remained in its strategy and they were opposed to expansion. They pointed out the incompatibility between emissions and aircraft expansion.

Given the concerns about climate change does Heathrow have to expand?

The short answer is yes because so much trade and economic generation is based around airport activities. If not at Heathrow where would it go? But expansion will probably not at any price. Determining that price is the difficult task.

The airport is planning expansion up to 2050 according to its 104 page document called The World is Waiting which you can read – if you wish – by clicking here. That is a very long time even in aviation terms. An even longer document – 250 pages – is the airport’s preferred masterplan.

The aviation world will be a very different place in 2050. Has Heathrow prepared for that?

We will probably be flying in electrically powered planes or ones powered by hydrogen cells. One plane that is about to be certified is expected to fly up to 300 miles using just those cells. The new Airbus A321- XLR is said to be 30% per seat more fuel efficient and development will improve on that. Will there be vertical take-off planes thus removing the need for long runways?

Boeing say that the number of planes flying around the world will double by the year 2038 But surely they will be cleaner and emit less? Embraer say, in its twenty year forecast, that 55% of new plane orders for aircraft up to 150 seats will be for growth rather than replacement.

A plan for thirty years is a leap in the dark.

There is now a twelve week consultation exercise for anyone to make their thoughts known. You can comment by clicking here.

What we do know is that disruption around Heathrow is going to last some time and much longer than many anticipated.  

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