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Heathrow expansion and health

Mayor reveals the cost to public health of a third runway at Heathrow
Heathrow expansion and health

A new report published by the Mayor of London reveals the impact a third runway at Heathrow would have on Londoners’ health.

Noise and health

Despite the owners’ bold claims about the potential of improved technology and quieter engines, building a new runway would fail to curtail the effect of the din of jet engines on local people. In fact it would unnecessarily expose 124 more schools and 43,000 school children to a level of aircraft noise that has been proved to affect their level of reading and memory.

A third runway would expose at least half a million people to more noise than is produced by the five main rival European airports combined. If flight routing isn’t optimised, that figure would be nearer to one million.

The report also reveals that the long-term health effects of exposure to the extra noise caused by a third runway would be valued at a staggering £20 to 25bn over 60 years. That reflects the increased risk of heart attack, stroke, dementia and other disorders shown to be linked to prolonged exposure to aircraft noise.

Last week the Mayor acknowledged there was no silver bullet for Heathrow’s noise nightmare, and said that the only credible solution to Britain’s aviation dilemma was to pursue plans for a new hub airport to the east of the capital, away from populated areas.

‘No silver bullet’

A third runway would mean more than double the number of surface access journeys to and from the airport. In order to keep the numbers on the road manageable, the Commission’s own consultants propose that an airport access charge of £20 to £40 for every car or taxi could be needed. That would in turn mean the number of public transport journeys to and from the airport would jump from around 80,000 a day now to over 300,000 a day.

An expansion at Heathrow would require the airport to triple its debt and equity levels. That would be an unprecedented level of debt for a private airport and the government would almost certainly need to step in to secure their funding.

The Airports Commission’s own data reveals a three-runway Heathrow would be full in 2030 and subject to the same problems of congestion and delays that the airport faces today.

‘There is no silver bullet for the noise nightmare of a third runway at Heathrow and any approval of expansion would clearly result in decades of legal challenges. Its cramped urban location simply cannot accommodate the kind of airport this country requires to compete on the global stage and the cost to the taxpayer of necessary road and rail connections would be huge, however well disguised.

‘That means the government has a bold decision to make – but not a difficult one. They must surely finally recognise that the only long-term vision that sustains our economy and safeguards our health is to build a four runway hub airport at the Thames Estuary or Stansted.’

Mayor of London

In December 2015 the Government rightly recognised that it did not have the evidence to be able to justify an expansion of Heathrow. They will need to face down the vested interests who are set on an expansion of Heathrow that is not in the national interest.

Click here to read the full report, Landing the right airport.

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