Azara Blog: Government proposes the expansion of Heathrow

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Date published: 2007/11/22

The BBC says:

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has set out proposals for a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow.

Announcing options for consultation, she said without growth the airport's status would suffer, but any expansion must meet noise and pollution tests.

Among options are a 2,200m third runway built north of Heathrow by 2020, and a sixth terminal, which will require the destruction of an entire village.

Critics say more than 50 communities and towns will suffer increased noise.

Analysis published by the government on Thursday suggests an expanded Heathrow could meet air pollution and noise limits over time.

It says three runways could be operated from 2020, without breaching air quality limits - thanks to developments like cleaner aircraft engines.

But it says take-offs and landings should be limited to 605,000 a year initially, to meet noise restrictions.

As older, noisier planes are phased out, this could rise to 702,000 by 2030. Currently there are 480,000 a year.

The third runway is among proposals in a consultation process which will run until 27 February.

Another is a sixth terminal to serve the new runway, which would require 700 properties to be bulldozed, including the village of Sipson.

In the meantime, the two existing runways could be used for both take-off and landings - currently arrivals are switched from one to the other after 3pm to give residents a break from the noise.

And agreements governing the direction in which aircraft leave and arrive at the airport could be changed.

Well, this largely makes sense, but time will tell whether any of it ever happens. Unfortunately, in the UK it seems the government has little say in these matters, the courts are the final arbiters and you can guarantee the opponents will drag things out in the courts as long as possible, hoping for a change in government. And the Tories will quite possibly form that next government, in a couple of years, and they seem to be anti-aviation (except that they themselves will continue to fly everywhere, of course, it's just the peasants who should stay at home), so they might well drop the expansion plans.

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