Now the Policy Exchange wants to Demolish Poyle

Since when was Tim Leunig an expert on Airport Civil Engineering and Surface Access?  Our favourite SW1 Dumbtank surpasses all previous low expectations.

The UK needs a four-runway airport either at Heathrow or Luton if it wants to compete with other European hubs such as Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, a report by a think tank has said.

The best option would be four runways immediately west of the current Heathrow site in west London, the report from Policy Exchange said.

A four-runway airport at Luton in Bedfordshire would be the next-best option.

The report did not rule out an extra, third runway at Heathrow, but said Thames Estuary airport plans, as supported by London Mayor Boris Johnson and by architect Lord Foster, were not practical.

Policy Exchange said an estuary airport would be too difficult to get to for too many people and would present greater environmental and construction challenges than expansion at Heathrow.

Also ruled out were four-runway airports at Gatwick or Stansted.

The report also called for a complete ban on the noisiest of aircraft at all times, a complete ban on night flights (between 11pm and 6.15am) and steeper landing angles to cut down on noise.

The report was written by Tim Leunig, chief economist at the liberal think tank CentreForum., who said: “We can and should expand aviation capacity in south east England. Doing so will send a much-needed signal to people that Britain is open for business.

“It is possible to expand Heathrow in such a way that it cements itself as Europe’s number one hub while significantly reducing the noise nuisance over west London. A four-runway airport would be straightforward to construct and relatively low cost by the standards of hub airports. It causes the lowest level of disruption to the wider economy of any likely airport expansion scenario.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “The strength with which the different options are put forward shows precisely why we were right to set up a proper independent review with the timescale to consider fully what is in the country’s interest. Maintaining the UK’s status as a leading aviation hub is vital to our economy and history suggests that, without an agreed evidence base and a high degree of political consensus, it will not be possible to deliver a lasting solution that is right for the UK.”

I have read through the report.  Sadly its incompetence is breathtaking.  It proposes to build new runways 3km to the west of Heathrow – next to the village if Datchet is located by my measurement, very close to Sunnymeads, Windsor and Old Windsor, and also likely to see the demolition of Poyle, Horton and Warysbury and the need to replace a (European protected RAMSAR) reservoir.  It proposes to ‘reuse’ existing terminal and infrastructure, sorry but what airport in the world has a 3-55km taxiway from the terminal to takeoff? Airfreight would in some cases have to taxi 6km.  The space given for peripheral associated uses is too low, no space even for a peripheral circulation road;  a practical design would require the demolition of the historic villages of Poyle and Datchet, and the closure of terminals 1,2 and 3 relocating them within the footprint.

There is no modelling of surface access, he proposes doubling passengers numbers to Heathrow and expects an upgraded Piccadilly line to be able to cope.  Neither is their any modelling of urbanisation effects.  Where will the 75,000 additional workers be housed?

The report suggests a Luton 4 runway airport as a plan B – Err there is not space, Luton Hoo and the Chilterns it calls the terrain ‘challenging’ more like impossible.  Luton could take a second runway physically, but not three more.

By retaining the existing Heathrow Site nor would there be any real estate uplift capture to fund the runway.

I looked in vain for any planning, transport planning, aviation or civil engineering expertise commissioned as part of the report.  Zero – sorry the report is wastepaper basket bound and must be causing some hilarity in the DfT – who need a lugh at the moment.  Tim may have expertise as a transportation economist but attempting a new career as a transport engineering designer is well out of his depth.

if You are going to accept a hub airport case – which is really only a case in terms of attracting tourists from emerging economies – then the only practical site, which we have said on here many times before – is the former RAF Gaydon.

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About andrew lainton

International Urban Planner

Posted on October 5, 2012, in Transport Planning. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The Gaydon plan would appear to provide a raison d’etre for HS2 – which does not stack up otherwise.

  2. Cllr Ian Beardsmore

    Our policy on Heathrow was about great deal more than noise. ON TUESDAY I present the following motion to Surrey CC…
    This council opposes any proposals to build additional runways at Heathrow and Gatwick airports or increase air traffic at other airports in and around Surrey, such as Farnborough and Biggin Hill, as this would damage Surrey’s environment and adversely impact on Surrey’s residents.
    Council agrees to write to the Secretary of State for Transport to express its view that while being pro economic growth the Surrey environment must be protected and alternatives to airport expansion in the South East must be found.

    This is typical think tank rubbish all tanked and no think

  3. I have read the proposal from the Policy Exchange Group and it is the most innovative solution I have seen yet and would deliver a truly world class hub reusing a large amount of the existing airport’s infrastucture and transportation links, It would also considerably reduce the noise profile over West London providing some well needed relief for the thousands of people living under the flight path. Heathrow is in the right place as far as catchment is concerned and has fast links into central London which make it the most appealing option for the business and leisure traveler alike. Lets not pussy foot around for years and get this airport, which Britain could take great pride in built sooner rather than later.

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