What about Heathrow?

By | Category: Travel rumblings
panoramic view of Heathrow

Heathrow showing, to the north, where a new runway might go

The government says Heathrow’s expansion will go ahead.

Actually it doesn’t say that. What it says is that it will go ahead provided that environmental concerns are met although how it can assess that issue when we are talking about what will happen at least seven years’ away is beyond me. By then newer planes may be quieter during cruising, taxiing and during take-off and landing. They may spew out fewer emissions but surely older planes will still be flying. Jumbo-jets that have been around for fifty years as a design still fly although there have been modifications since.

The Labour party has adopted a similar approach saying that a number of tests need to be met, these being on capacity, noise and air quality, climate change and economic growth. The Liberals and Greens seem opposed but the DUP is in favour as are any SNP members. Just like the Conservatives, Labour is split on the issue regardless of whatever the party leaders say will be policy with the Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, welcoming the decision to go ahead.

Will Heathrow’s expansion get the necessary votes next week to go ahead? Probably but there will be unusual alliances in the vote. But that won’t be the end of it. Some councils such as Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth may fight it in the courts so I wouldn’t be prepared to say that there will be expansion. The decision so far is just to move the project slightly forward.

For passengers and travellers, the biggest problem will be the disruption on the motorway network as a tunnel is built on the M25. The knock-on effect will mean that probably for many years it will take longer to drive to the airport.

If, and when, the third runway is completed, using Heathrow may be a significantly more pleasant opportunity than it is either now or during the building! But would I bet on Heathrow’ expansion happening. Not yet, I wouldn’t.

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