Boris Island or Bigger and Quieter?

A leading UK Think Tank, Policy Exchange have been carrying out a study to examine every possible solution to increase airport capacity in the UK.

It has concluded placing four runways west of Heathrow is the most feasible solution, however if the residents at Windsor Castle disagree or this plan is politically impractical, the report suggests a four-runway airport at Luton is next best.

The report, written by Tim Leunig, chief economist at the liberal think tank Centre Forum, says more capacity is needed in the south east of the UK to accommodate increased demand caused by the growing middle class from emerging markets. Whist optimising capacity, the report also looks at ways of minimising noise pollution.

How would you increase capacity in the UK?

The report doesn’t rule out a third runway at Heathrow so the people of Sipson can’t yet breathe a sigh of relief, but instead suggests four runways, 3km west of the current airport would have less of a noise impact.

What’s in

A blanket ban on the loudest aircraft. So that sends dreamers looking to revive Concorde back to the drawing board. Airlines would have to ensure their fleets comply with aircraft noise levels before the four runways are complete. What would be the economic impact on airlines and would this policy favour those who are currently renewing their fleets?

Blanket night jet ban. Who lives near LHR at the moment? Are night flights a concern?

Steep approaches. Aircraft would make London City style approaches into LHR. This would mean making modifications to some aircraft so they are capable. The A318 uses an ‘expedite approach’ mode to get into London City. I can’t help but wonder if steep approaches would result in more missed approaches and therefor a worse environmental impact. And those stunning London views would be worse! Relocating the airport west would mean aircraft are higher over the City anyway.

And out

The report leaves Boris and Foster paddling in the estuary. The report deems the estuary airport impractical to get to and expensive to construct. It would also mean the potential relocation of hundreds of new businesses already purposefully close to Heathrow. What would this do for West London employment?

Connecting LHR and LGW would cost around £15 billion. The paper rules out trying to create this 25 mile rail link.

It also eliminates further runways at Gatwick and Stanstead.  Both have poor locations and poor connections to the rest of the country. The report recommends LGW continues to consolidate it’s leisure market.

What do you think of Policy Exchange’s findings?