Why @vincecable Theory that ‘The Politicians Will Go For Gatwick Over Heathrow’ is Flawed

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He said: “On the Davies report I will just make this controversial observation… I think if it recommends Heathrow I don’t think it will happen and the reason it won’t happen is because the Boris Johnson wing of the Tory party – which is quite a big wing I think, I’m not a member of it but I suspect it’s quite a big wing – and my party and I suspect substantial chunks of Chuka’s [Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna] will oppose it vehemently because of the impact on London.

“We have got about three quarters of a million people who are already very seriously affected by Heathrow in a negative way; both noise and pollution.

“If it recommends Gatwick I suspect it will happen because only a 20th of the number of people are affected by it.”

This whole theory though is predicated on one assumption – the Heathrow option will lead to a net increase in noise to London residents.  If it is found not to then there is no environmental case for Gatwick over Heathrow, and no Economic case, as the CBA for the Heathrow options are much higher.

When the Davies Commission published its preliminary findings last Nov it did show a small new increase from the ‘Heathrow Hub’ options, a clever design to get two runways on the site of one (and in the longer term extend both runways). There was no clear justification of the noise assessment and many suspected it was a modelling error – it could not be right that landing planes further away from centres of London population could lead to a bet increase in noise.

So it has turned out.  The Heathrow Hub team have conducted new modelling reviewed and approved by the CAA noise team. 

Our recent submission on noise has been revised and then modelled by the Civil Aviation Authority’s noise team. New indicative flight paths, similar to those used by Heathrow Airport Ltd in their proposal have been modelled. The result is a dramatic reduction in the population impacted by aircraft noise. For example, according to the CAA modelling and using the Commission’s assumptions, the 2040 population inside the 55db Lden footprint falls by more than 300,000 when compared to today (even assuming population growth) and is approximately 15% lower than the equivalent HAL figure.

So if the Davies commission recommends Heathrow Hub, as is now looking near certain, and announces in a press release ‘300,000 people will experience less noise’ I dont think even Boris could dodge that.

The only serious obstacle to the Hub proposal was the possibility of burying the M25 to make space and whether this would be practical.  Heathrow Hub now say this isn’t necessary

We propose to move the motorway slightly to the west, passing under the extended runway. This provides an opportunity to improve traffic flows on this busy section of the motorway network. The new section of road would be built without any disruption to traffic, and brought into use with some overnight lane closures. The road would not need to be closed at any time.

Heathrow Hub is a no brainer, there are no longer any technical objections to it and it beats Gatwick hands down on surface access and transport costs.  Any politician, even Boris, rejecting the proposal on the basis of a made up environmental impact would swiftly find themselves in court regarding the SEA of the National Infrastructure Airports policy statement.  Boris would have to back down and knows this I think and so is already preparing how to spin it that as rejecting the HAL proposal for a close parallel runway and not building a new runway instead.



One thought on “Why @vincecable Theory that ‘The Politicians Will Go For Gatwick Over Heathrow’ is Flawed

  1. There is a fundamental fallacy in this article: equating people being impacted by noise with people within the 55 dB contour.

    There is some sophisticated spreading of noise being proposed to artificially massage these figures. In any event the Airports Commission rightly recommends that we move away from relying on a single noise metric.

    Moreover with research showing that people have become more sensitive to aircraft noise – likely to be even more so in future as traffic noise reduces due to a shift away from Internal Combustion Engines – there are even stronger reasons to oppose airport expansion.

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