Thursday, January 17, 2008

Heathrow Airport plane crash & expansion of airport

Seeing the pictures this evening on the news of the BA aircraft crash landing at Heathrow, it's a miracle that no-one was killed or seriously injured in the accident. The investigation into the incident will no doubt shed further light on what happened, but many people had a a very luck escape.

This of course will raise questions about the future expansion of Heathrow Airport and a third runway. With the matter about to go out for consultation, the accident has certainly not helped the case for a third runway.

I personally do not support a third runway at Heathrow given its location and the fact that a large part of London suffers greatly from aircraft noise. In areas like Mitcham and Pollards Hill which at present do not suffer from aircraft noise, if a third runway is built we are likely to see aircraft noise increase as flight paths are changed and capacity expanded. Indeed, noise contour diagrams have shown that Mitcham will suffer if flights into Heathrow expand.

Unlike many other airports in major cities, the flightpath is directly over the city which increase the number of people impacted byt the noise. Given that Heathrow is surrounded on all sides by residential area's the aiport is located in a densly poulated surrounding area , the environmental impact is huge.

However, while I might be opposed to Heathrow expansion, I believe that aviation is of enormous importance to this country and the economy of both London and the UK. We need extra capacity and that fact is rightly recognised, whilst it would no doubt not be universally popular, given that both Gatwick and Stanstead have flight paths away from urban areas and are single runway airports, this an option that should be pursued even though a planning agreement exists at Gatwick until 2020 that a second runway is not built. Over the next decade aviation will grow further and decisions need to be taken - it is right that we are having this debate even if I disagree with the present conclusions. Heathrow contributes enormously to our economy, but it's time to face facts that given its location it's not suitable for further expansion.

1 Comments:

OpenID inel said...

Dear Martin,

Just like you, I oppose the addition of capacity at Heathrow airport. The large one-off destruction and construction project as well as annual increases in flight numbers means the expansion of Heathrow airport will undoubtedly increase greenhouse gas emissions and worsen our climate change challenge.

I live under the flight path too. The increased flights will undoubtedly cause the quality of life for my neighbours to deteriorate, and damage the environment in many ways that current proposals fail to touch on. Paramount is the contribution of aviation emissions to the serious challenge we all face with climate change.

There is no need for growth in aviation to be a given. Aviation is important to Britain, but growth in aviation does not need to be accepted without question. There are other less damaging ways of connecting people, using alternative modes of transport, as well as broadband communications for transmission of documents and telecommuting. All these opportunities for staying in touch and experiencing the world change the framework within this whole subject of flying is discussed.

By the way, the consultation on 'Adding capacity at Heathrow airport' is already underway. It began in November, and the deadline for responses to the Department for Transport (DfT) is 27 February 2008.

10:40 am  

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