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The committee tasked with researching the benefits of or alternatives to a third runway at Heathrow face no easy challenge.
Given the limbo in which the residents of surrounding suburbs have lived in for years, it is clear that a decision needs to be made as to the future of the airport. One radical proposal comes from none other than the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Taking his inspiration from Denver in the USA, he has suggested that Heathrow airport is demolished and replaced with a new suburb, while a four-runway hub airport would be created either in the Thames estuary or at the current Stansted site.
The evidence in favour of this solution lies in Colorado. Twenty years ago Denver’s authorities closed down the city’s main airport and replaced it with residential housing, schools and parkland, while building the new airport north of the city. Denver International Airport now attracts numbers far in excess of those of the previous airport. However, a similar scheme in Hong Kong has not been so successful.
Due to the potential demolition of surrounding properties, understandably, many nearby residents are opposed to further Heathrow development. There is also the current factor to take into account, of the aircraft noise as planes arrive and leave Heathrow. People living under the flight path and people working in offices in London, mainly offices in the surrounding areas are used to frequent noise, which is likely to become more intense or to spread to other areas, if expansion plans go ahead.
The government has made it clear that no decisions will be made until after the next general election in 2015 and it is likely to be at least ten years before any real effect is seen, regardless of the recommendations of the consultation.
The only certainty at this stage is that any decision will bring with it controversy.
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