July 29, 2008

Report Blow for Fast Rail-Link Campaign

Building a third runway at Heathrow Airport is the "obvious" solution to airport congestion, says a report published today.

A detailed study rejects building more airport capacity elsewhere around London and says the idea of a new airport in the Thames Gateway is not thought credible.

Commissioned by the City of London Authority, the authors say Heathrow is "deeply unpopular" with business leaders because of delays, traffic around the airport and security issues.

However, as revealed in the Yorkshire Post, an all-party alliance of local authorities unhappy with expansion at Heathrow has called for a super-fast North-South rail link to be built as an alternative, reducing connecting flights by encouraging more business travellers from the North to travel to the Continent by train.

A line proposed by Harrogate-based senior railway engineer Colin Elliff, could replace about 30 per cent of Heathrow's 645 flights a day, stopping the need for a third runway and opening up more of the North to businesses.

The 2M Group backed by 20 local councils presented its rival proposals last week.

In response to the latest call for a third runway, Friends of the Earth transport spokesman Tony Bosworth said it should be scrapped in favour of fast rail links.

He said: "Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of UK carbon dioxide emissions and airport expansion will make it extremely difficult for Britain to meet its targets for preventing climate change."

The City of London report says business needs improvements to current Heathrow services and expansion in the future.

Failure to increase the number of flights could threaten London's role as a leading business centre, author York Aviation says.

Building the third runway comes with a "significant" environmental costs but the alternatives, expanding Stansted Airport in Essex or building an airport in the Thames Estuary were not credible, the report, Aviation Services And The City concludes.

The report was welcomed by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Policy director Dr Helen Hill said it proved beyond doubt the third runway was "essential" for business.

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