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Heathrow doubts after new analysis shows Gatwick expansion ‘better than third runway’

Posted: October 26, 2017 at 5:42 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow have been cast into doubt as analysis shows that expansion of Gatwick could bring greater economic benefit and be less damaging to the environment.

A public consultation on Heathrow has been reopened following a series of reports published by the Department for Transport (Dft), which assessed the impact that expansion would have on noise pollution and air quality.

The reports show that opting to expand Heathrow over a second runway option at Gatwick significantly increases the likelihood that Britain will miss its environmental targets.

And while it was originally forecast that Heathrow would bring greater economic benefits, new official analysis now states that Gatwick would deliver greater financial reward.

The earlier report, put out for public consultation earlier this year, claimed that Heathrow offered total benefits of between £59.2billion and £61.1billion over a 60-year period, outweighing the £52.4 to £53.7billion that could be gained from Gatwick.

But the latest analysis has flipped this on its head, with Britain set to gain up to £75.3billion from Gatwick, compared to just £74.2billion from the third runway option at Heathrow.

While Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, insisted the reopening of the public consultation did not diminish the case for Heathrow, the analysis is likely to reignite calls for a rethink.

Although the Government has backed Heathrow, a number of key figures – including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening – continue to oppose expansion.

The DfT said that it was “on track” to deliver final proposals on airport expansion by the first quarter of 2018, when it will then be voted on by Parliament.

It added that an expanded Heathrow will be more accessible thanks to HS2, Crossrail and an additional six domestic flight routes.

However, Cait Hewitt, deputy director of campaign group the Aviation Environment Federation, claimed the “scale of this re-consultation” showed that the case for Heathrow expansion is “unconvincing”.

“It’s difficult to see how this new information can avoid delaying the process,” she added. “MPs and the public will need time to understand how the new forecasts impact emissions, noise and the sustainability appraisal of the project.”

A Heathrow spokesman said: “The forecasts show expanding Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport, is even more important than previously realised.

“A third runway will ensure Britain’s place in the world as an outward looking trading nation. That’s why the Government has committed to a final vote on expansion in the first half of 2018.”





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