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Capacity blow from Airports Commission
Anti-Heathrow expansion campaigners were dealt a blow this week, when the Airports Commission declared a need for more runway capacity in the south-east.
In a speech on Monday, October 7, chairman of the commission Sir Howard Davies, who was assigned 11 months ago to assess the options for the future of airport capacity in England, noted the need for runway capacity.
He said: “We will need some net additional runway capacity in the south-east of England in the coming decades.”
He recognised the need for new runways, but did not specify where to put them.
He said: “An attempt to rely only on runways currently in operation would be likely to produce a distinctly sub-optimal solution for passengers, connectivity and the economy.
“How much new runway capacity is required depends on how that capacity will be utilised, and where it is, as well as on its overall theoretical capacity.”
The commission is on track for its target to complete an interim report before the end of this year and a full report with recommendations for the government by summer 2015.
Anti-Heathrow expansion campaigners in Richmond said the commission’s comments sought to close off the debate about the need for new capacity.
Chairman of Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC) Peter Willan said: “This is no longer a balanced approach in which non-expansion options are taken forward in parallel with other options, thus allowing proper public consultation and decisions to be taken by elected politicians.
“There are proposals which will take advantage of this situation; these are for new runways north and south of the two existing Heathrow runways and the southern proposal in particular is likely to have a high noise impact on Richmond.
“We shall continue to make the strong case that no new runways are needed and that this option should be carried forward consulted on and ministers given a real choice.”
Health and Heathrow
People who live under flight paths are more likely to die from a stroke or heart and circulatory diseases than those who do not, according to a recent study.
Researchers at Imperial College London and King’s College London compared data on day and night-time aircraft noise with hospital admissions and mortality rates among a population of 3.6m people living near Heathrow.
Deaths were 20 per cent higher in areas with high levels of aircraft noise than in places with the least noise.
John Stewart, chairman of Hacan, said: “This latest study highlights once again that living under a flight path can damage your health.
“More people are affected by noise from Heathrow than by any other airport in Europe.
“It is yet another reason not to build a third runway.”
Richmond Council leader Lord True said the study confirmed the council’s view that Heathrow had been lowering the quality of life for people in the borough for years.
He said: “Not only does noise from aircraft disturb sleep and obnoxiously pollute our days, but studies have now shown it is detrimental to our children’s education and damaging to our health.
“This should be another clear message to the Davies Commission on expanding aircraft capacity in the UK that Heathrow, situated so absurdly in the midst of millions of people, must never expand.”
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