At the last GLA elections in 2008, all the Mayoral candidates and major political grouping were against the expansion of Heathrow airport with a third runway ( that includes the Labour group going against their Party Policy nationally ). With the Mayors launch last month of the first part of his report for a new airport for London, arguing for new capacity, it will be very different in the next GLA elections in 2012.
Within a matter of days after his report launched, we have the City of London Corporation releasing their own report suggesting that you could expand Heathrow by changing the landing practises at the airport by stopping the need to have landings and take-off alternated from either of the two runway but have both happening on the same runway. This could overnight increase flights movements by almost another 50,000 annually. In the meantime, we had a HACAN commissioned report by Delft called a “Ban on night flights at Heathrow airport” valuing the price of a decent nights sleep for all Londoners particularly around the noise contours surrounding Heathrow at £ 860 million annually, illustrating well the benefits of not having nights flights into the airport.
So it is clear that the report has opened up old debates and that many may of thought had been closed down around Heathrow. On top of this the Mayor supported the expansion of the only other active commercial airport in Greater London, City airport from 80,000 flights to 120,000 since being in office within his planning powers. He of course denies this, though correspondence exists to illustrate this well.
The second part of his report will indicate where this second hub for London should be, including still considering the Thames Estuary site. This when the first part of the report established his case for another 564,000 annual air traffic movements and that this growth could be accommodated within the overall challenge of reducing transports contribution to climate change and more localised environmental impacts! In the meantime, leading lights in the aviation field, have suggested this strategy could threaten jobs in and around Heathrow.
At the session at Progressive London during the morning of the 19th called “ Grounded – the future alternatives to airport expansion “ we brought leading activists and groups like HACAN, NoTRAG and Fighttheflights on this issue to hopefully establish both a position and a strategy which grounds the Mayors expansion plans across London.