The Impact of Heathrow Expansion on Surface Access
The Richmond Heathrow Campaign has issued a report on surface access to Heathrow. How much will it cost and who should pay for it?
Current and prospective plans for public transport access to Heathrow will barely catch up with increasing demand from Londoners for commuting and local travel, and passengers journeying to and from the existing two-runway Heathrow.
There appear to be no published plans to meet the increased public transport demand that a third runway would create. If not met, this demand would result in overcrowding on public transport and higher road congestion, with more journey delays and greater pollution.
The cost to the UK could be up to £25 Bn, measured as a net present value over 60 years. For the increased demand generated by a three-runway Heathrow, the costs needed to avoid taxpayer subsidy represent as much as £33 per passenger journey.
The costs of providing this increased capacity should be included in the economic value of Heathrow expansion. They should not be passed to taxpayers.
The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames has also issued a press release, ‘Benefits’ of expansion cut by £25bn as public transport improvements fall short summarising this report.
A public meeting at Duke Street Church, Richmond organised by the Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC) heard this week of some of the impacts that the building of a third runway would have on the local area.
Peter Willan, Chair of the RHC outlined some of the effects that the operation of an additional runway would have on noise pollution for residents. People in Richmond and Kew living under arrivals would have their respite time, which is currently eight hours, halved. Added to which, the noise from at least a 50% increase in landings across the three runways would eliminate meaningful respite for most of these residents and the vulnerable such as children and the elderly. Visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond Park and other similar sites would also suffer from additional aviation noise.
Air pollution is also likely to rise according to Professor Roger Mason. He warned of the dangers of an increase in particulate matter (PM 2.5), which is particularly harmful to human health and already contributes to over 6% of premature deaths in the borough. He criticised Heathrow for failing to adopt new guidelines set by the government in its Clean Air Strategy, which aims to reduce by 50% the number of people living in areas with PM 2.5 levels above the World Health Organisation guidelines. He also questioned Heathrow’s failure to recognise the pollution from aircraft in flight.
Noise and pollution from aviation are not the only problems facing local residents. he expansion of Heathrow will see an extra 150,000 passengers every day travelling to and from the airport plus additional staff. RHC’s Transport Consultant, Mike McCrory queried how Heathrow could keep to its pledge not to increase traffic levels without any investment to improve the public transport system. The required large shift from road to public transport and the adequacy of sufficient public transport capacity are seriously in doubt.
Cait Hewitt, Deputy Director, Aviation Environment Federation drew attention to the impact an expanded Heathrow would have on climate change and the UK’s targets for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. She criticised Heathrow (the biggest source of CO2 in the UK) for relying on international offsetting of the increase in emissions that would be needed to achieve UK emission’s targets if the third runway goes ahead.
While the meeting was primarily about the impact of expanding Heathrow, Michael Glazebrook of RHC challenged the very grounds for expansion, citing Department for Transport evidence for the negative impact on the UK aviation market and the absence of economic benefit to the UK.
Matt Gorman, Director of Sustainability at Heathrow, fielded the questions raised in advance of the meeting and at the meeting by the RHC speakers and the audience. Councillor Martin Elengorn, Richmond Council Chair of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture & Sports Services Committee, helpfully outlined the Council’s role in regard to Heathrow.
The 200 attendees at the meeting were urged to voice their concerns by taking part in the consultation process before the deadline on 13th September.
A pdf of the Richmond Heathrow Campaign’s slides presented at
Airports National Policy Statement
In 2017-18 we responded to the Department for Transport’s
In 2017 we submitted eleven responses to Government consultations,
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 here’s what’s inside the report itself:
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
And the benefit may even be negative once full allowance
for noise, air pollution
What kind of value is this?
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.
Even British Airways is against a 3rd runway at Heathrow.
It’s mainly the
foreign owners of Heathrow
who want a 3rd runway.
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.