It's Folly to Expand Heathrow

Article excerpt

AS THE UK's largest independent travel retailer, we came out against development of a third runway at Heathrow last summer, primarily on environmental grounds, and have seen no reason to change our minds since then.

It might be relatively straightforward to build a pure business case for expansion as Jo Valentine of London First does (12 January) based on issues such as the need to protect Heathrow's reputation as a hub along with the jobs it could help create. But no one from the pro-expansion lobby appears to be considering a third runway's long-term impacts on residents, on emissions, and on the area's strained infrastructure which already needs huge investment.

Can Heathrow ever meet the "gold standard" Valentine alludes to? BAA's announcement that mixedmode operations will be introduced next year will increase annual flights by 60,000, or an additional 12 million passengers each year if each aircraft carries 200 people.

On its own, this will make it very difficult for the Government to achieve its emissions reductions targets. How are we meant to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 if on top of this the airport is to be expanded without firm commitments to measures such as lighter air frames, better air-traffic management and improved engine design?

Mike Greenacre, The Co-operative Travel. …