by Michael Lowrey
People have a love/hate relationship with airports. They love the mobility that scheduled air service provides but those that live near airports strongly object to the noise. Because of these NIMBYs, it’s often very difficult for airports in major urban areas to expand. The ultimate case in point is London, where, despite being very heavily utilized, the two main airports — Heathrow and Gatwick — have a grand total of three runways between them. (By comparison, Charlotte Douglas International Airport has four runways.) The current Conservative government has decided to do something about that, announcing plans for an additional (third) runway at Heathrow. Per the BBC:
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the “truly momentous” decision would support trade and create jobs.
Gatwick airport said it was disappointed with the decision, which was “not the right answer for Britain”.
The issue has split the Cabinet, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson saying a third runway was “undeliverable”.
The Education Secretary, Justine Greening, whose Putney constituency in southwest London is near the airport, has also been a vocal critic of Heathrow expansion.
The Department for Transport said a new runway at Heathrow would bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61bn and create as many as 77,000 additional local jobs over the next 14 years.
Personally, despite the government’s decision, I’ll believe it only when the first jet lands on the new runway.