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A 3rd Runway at Heathrow
won't help the UK Economy
says the Government’s own report

Read our response to the Government’s Heathrow runway announcement

The objective of the Government’s Davies Commission was to
“identify and recommend to Government options for maintaining the UK’s status as an international hub for aviation”.

Sir Howard Davis’s summary recommended a third runway at Heathrow.
But the detail of report itself showed that a third runway would be bad for the UK as a whole,
deliver negligible value, and negatively impact UK aviation.


1. It would just move flights into the South-East from the rest of the UK.

A 3rd Runway would add 41 million passengers per year in the over-heated South-East but take away 58 million from airports outside the South-East.

So where’s the benefit? And how is this compatible with the Northern Powerhouse?


2. It would shrink the UK aviation sector and reduce the number of destinations served.

The number of UK passengers per year would decrease by 4%. For the UK as a whole, the numbers of long-haul, short-haul, and domestic destinations would stay the same or reduce.

How is this “... maintaining the UK’s status as an international hub for aviation”?


3. International transfers would take up most new capacity, delivering negligible value.

Over 50% of the new capacity would be used for an extra 22 million International to International transfers, delivering little benefit to the UK as these passengers don’t step outside the airport.

How does this add value to the UK?


4. The investment offers no compelling return.

The proposed investment of £17 billion would result in a net present value over 60 years
of £1.4 billion. That’s well within the margin of error.

And the benefit may even be negative once full allowance for noise, air pollution
and the £20 billion that TfL estimate for new transport links is included.

What kind of value is this?



Thumbnail of front page RHC letter to the Prime Minister, July 2016

RHC letter to the PM, July 2016


There is more detail on these points
in our recent letter to the Prime Minister.
You can read this by clicking on the image to the left, or here.

For even further information, please see our analysis,
which can be found at


There are many other good reasons not to expand Heathrow

Air pollution: Exhaust pollution from traffic travelling to and from Heathrow is already killing people. Existing airport operations already result in a breach of legal air pollution limits. It seems unlikely that a third runway could be operated while remaining within the law.

Noise: Heathrow noise levels already breach World Health Organisation guidelines and affect far more people than any other airport in Europe. A third runway would expose several hundred thousand more to aircraft noise for the first time.

Carbon: Heathrow’s growth would be constrained by limits on carbon emissions: there simply won’t be enough headroom or affordable carbon credits for a third runway to operate.

Surface access: Transport for London (TfL) has stated that up to £20 billion will be needed to provide surface transportation for a third runway. The alternative would be more crowded trains, more road congestion, and even more dangerous air pollution.

Public subsidy: The Government would need to commit to commit tens of billions of pounds of grants and loan guarantees to cover airport expansion and the supporting surface transport infrastructure.

Competition: It would entrench Heathrow’s dominance of UK intercontinental flights and put at risk the quality of service that air travellers experience.



Opposition to a 3rd Runway at Heathrow is overwhelming

Over 70% of people in Richmond and Hounslow are against a 3rd runway at Heathrow.

All the candidates for Mayor of London are against a 3rd runway at Heathrow.

Even British Airways is against a 3rd runway at Heathrow.


It’s mainly the foreign owners of Heathrow who want a 3rd runway. Heathrow employs top PR companies to influence the Government. They have deep pockets but shallow arguments. Nothing they say should be taken at face value.


Our Position

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign’s view is that expected future passenger demand can be met by substantially reducing transfers at Heathrow – most of which neither increase the number of destinations served nor benefit the wider economy – and with predicted higher occupancy and larger aircraft. No additional runways need be built.

In particular, we are opposed to any expansion at Heathrow. This would increase noise misery for many in West London and blight new areas of the city. Instead, Heathrow’s operations should be managed to meet existing national and international public health and noise guidelines. This includes the abolition of all night flights.