More evidence that Heathrow Expansion is not the solution

Recently, the boss of Virgin Atlantic, Steve Ridgway, has claimed that the only solution to the UK’s airport problem is to expand Heathrow. He claims that Heathrow is the best option simply because other solutions, such as a new airport in the Thames Estuary, will cost too much money and will become unaffordable. While this might seem attractive in times of massive budget deficits and economic recession, the government needs to look past this for a variety of reasons. At the same time, it is clear that Heathrow is not the right option, with more evidence from Massachusetts Institute of Technology adding to the argument that something else needs to be done.

Claiming that a new airport solution would probably be quite “cheap” to build, Steve Ridgway added that the additional transport links such as roads and rail links would come at a massive cost, making the whole project a bad idea. However, for the most part, this spending would be good for the country. While the airport itself would be financed by the private sector, the government would have to step in to fund the other supporting infrastructure. I’ve said before on this website that the government needs to cut the deficit, but this is because consumption spending, on areas such as welfare is currently too high. On the other hand, long-term infrastructure projects that will provide a return in the future, through new jobs and growth. Projects that actually help the country are always a good idea. It’s an added bonus that a project this big, at this time during the economic cycle would help both the economy as a whole move out of recession and the local Thames Estuary area regenerate.

In addition, new evidence has yet again proved that Heathrow is not the solution. A new report from MIT and Cambridge has suggested that the extra pollution from an additional runway would lead to the number of deaths tripling by 2030, from 50 to 150. While this might not seem like a lot, it’s an extra burden that a new airport in the Thames Estuary would remove. The same report indicated that a new airport built in that location would lead to a 70% decrease when compared to the number of current deaths, meaning that there is a massive difference. The scientists have suggested that this is mainly to do with the difference in wind direction, with the pollution near a potential Thames Estuary airport blown out to sea.

While in the grand scheme of things this might not be the most important issue, it is something else to consider and yet more evidence that there are better options outside of Heathrow that should seriously be considered. The country needs a long term solution that will set it up for many years to come, meaning that it will be able to compete against the likes of Berlin and Paris, which Heathrow expansion is unable to do. Instead, I feel that a new airport, located in the Thames Estuary is the best solution. While many plans exist, we have our own at IOO, with detailed plans and analysis located at