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Heathrow to be expanded

The Guardian reports that the third runway is likely to be built by 2020, would add 600 flights a day and increase annual passenger numbers from 66 million to 122 million.

A high-speed rail link between London and the West Midlands going through a Heathrow International interchange has also been mooted. Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon says it will “enable faster journeys to the North and Scotland and could link the airport with rail destinations throughout the UK”.

He adds: “This would unlock Heathrow for the rest of the country, making it a truly national asset. I expect to receive advice from High Speed 2 [the company set up to investigate the rail link] by the end of the year on a credible plan for a new line with financing proposals.”

CBI director-general Richard Lambert says the approach to expanding Heathrow makes real sense. “It will create the integrated transport system necessary for an economy that needs to grow in an environmentally sustainable fashion,” he says. “We strongly support the tough environmental standards which have been proposed for the aviation industry – they are stretching but achievable. It’s right that full use of the new runway capacity should be dependent on Heathrow meeting strict environmental requirements. “Linking Heathrow to a high-speed rail network will increase the proportion of passengers who arrive by public transport and vastly improve connections to London and the rest of the UK. However, the move has disappointed a number of stakeholders, particularly those concerned about the environmental implications for a larger Heathrow footprint.

Moixa Energy CEO Simon Daniel has long-championed the building of another airport in London’s Thames Estuary over an increase in capacity at Heathrow.

Daniel suggests: “A new airport should also act as a new flood defence or Thames Barrier – if consumer action doesn’t change to reduce air travel, London is more likely to be flooded from climate change.

“The airport should also be designed as a tidal/wave generator platform (a reduced version of the Severn tidal barrier) and provide ten to 15 per cent of London’s energy, so the airport is carbon neutral and contributes back to London.”

He also argues that it should provide interchange to high-speed rail links to Europe, docking/shipping transfer and logistics facilities to the continent, enable planes to take off and land on a lower trajectory, and also support sea-based landing craft and the new Boeing battery powered planes.

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