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London Heathrow Third Runway: A Fight for Survival

Heathrow runway expansion status

After 15 years of opposition, last week England High Court last Wednesday (May 1) decided to throw out the challenges of environmentalists.

In a Bloomberg article, the three-panel judges stated “We understand that these claims involve underlying issues upon which the parties – and indeed many members of the public – hold strong and sincere views”

However, they “had concerned only the legality.” If we see it from the judges’ point of view they were right. Heathrow desperately needs a third new runway if it wants to compete with the rest of Europe, especially after Brexit.

One can really ask how this actually started

The U.K. has not had a runway since WWII. London has become the nexus to the world, but Heathrow and Gatwick capacity-wise are beyond what their designs initially were.

To this, the government adds: “With very limited capability at London’s major airports.” MP’s voted 415 to 119 last year, a well-deserved consensus for something that it is becoming an emergency. 

Possible solutions?

The Davies Commission (a commission designed to make recommendations) chose the following:

  1. A third runway in Heathrow over a second Gatwick runway (the second London airport by capacity),
  2. And an extended northern runway at Heathrow.

The British Minister and their Department of Transport say the expansion will bring more jobs and higher economic growth along with more flights.

“A new runway at Heathrow would provide benefits of up to £74bn to passengers and the broader economy and create tens of thousands of local jobs“, according to the Independent Article.

Heathrow Challenges

London being the number one connector to the rest of the world has its challenges. This especially if you connect the island to several continents at once for business, tourism, and pleasure.

Environmentalists like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Plan B, and others challenge that. The addition of the third runway is not compatible with the Paris Accord and UK domestic law.

While they claimed the UK’s is in the middle of an environmental emergency, the UK government has not adopted the (Paris) accord into local law.

This has been a fight that has lasted a decade and a half!

The ruling on Heathrow’s future

Third runway expansion map Heathrow
London Heathrow’s expansion map
Courtesy of UK Sun Newspaper

While Heathrow was in limbo, operationally Heathrow has done the impossible to remain number 1, even with all these restrictions.

Officials can display a sigh of relief as the High Court took the case on their merits and not their morals. Environmentalists, however, tried to drive the point that the UK government had lost.

Regardless, the expansion plan can continue as scheduled. Construction can begin in 2021. It will be completed by 2025.

The benefit of a third runway at Heathrow

Having a third runway would be like having a bypass solution. It would tremendously alleviate the clogging that currently exists at the airport. That would bring it to equal footing with airports in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Paris.

Having a new runway is like having a new airport of sorts. Connection times are reduced, and facilities can be constructed and spruced up. And don’t forget the benefits of the injection of business and tourism. This will have a great impact in a post-Brexit landscape.

While the matter isn’t over until the last ruling has been made, I believe the UK government, and airport officials needed a victory in the quagmire of Brexit.

I know its Thursday, but a pint (Beer) celebration is in order!

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