Heathrow should be "retired"

24-08-2006

The country's biggest airport should be "retired" and replaced with a new international airport to the east of London, a controversial new report claims.

Replacing Heathrow airport in west London would help ease the region's housing shortage and put an end to "constant noise" that plagues residents in London and south east England, the Town and Country Planning Association said.

Relocating the 60-year-old airport, described as one of Britain's "truly great planning catastrophes", would free up more than hundreds of hectares of land, worth over £6.8 billion, for redevelopment, the charity alleges.

The association claims that such a move would provide space to build more than 30,000 new homes and prevent people currently living around the capital's expanding airports from being displaced further.

The charity's report, entitled, Heathrow: A Retirement Plan, claims that there is no longer room to expand air services in west London to accommodate increasing volumes of long haul flights.

The authors of the study claim that relocating Heathrow to a new site by the Thames Estuary would reduce delays experienced by passengers and prevent aircraft noise over London.

They also claim that the bulk of "environmentally damaging short-haul flights" departing from Heathrow could be replaced through the development of a new high-speed rail network linked to a new airport to the east of the capital.

"Passengers who fume at the long taxiing operations culminating in a take-off queue, or at long periods spent in the four holding areas at the four corners of the metropolis, might well echo Dr Johnson’s famous remark about a dog walking on its hind legs; it’s not that it is done well, but you are surprised to find it is done at all," the report states.

But authors Tony Hall and Sir Peter Hall recognise that it would be "logistically impossible and economically ruinous" to close Heathrow in the immediate term and argue that their discussion paper is a "plea for long-term planning" that would result in the relocation of the airport at some time before the turn of the next century.





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