No Heathrow U-turn, but what next?


So, that's clear then. There will be no U turn.

There will be no eating of prime ministerial words.

There will be no third runway at Heathrow built by this coalition - no ifs, no buts as David Cameron once said.

However, the pressure from business groups for an expansion of Britain's airport capacity remains.

The residents of west London may now be breathing a sigh of relief, but anti-noise campaigners will know that - particularly now there's to be no new runway - there will be renewed pressure for more flights from the existing two, allowing take offs and landings (or so-called mixed mode use).

Those living near Stansted will know that there will be calls for more capacity there.

And the talk of an airport on Boris Island - in truth an idea which long predates the current Mayor of London - will now begin in earnest.

The reason David Cameron made his definitive pledge to oppose a third runway and the reason every major political party has recently opposed it is that airport noise is extraordinarily unpopular, affects people across dozens of constituencies and pledges to halt it can turn elections.

The prime minister may insist that all that happened today is that his ministers re-stated government policy.

However, he will know that he will now come under pressure to answer the question - if not Heathrow, where? And if not airport expansion to revive the economy, what?

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    There is absolutely no reason on earth why you should not be able to transfer at the same airport! proviso being! Flight Operators are not Hub controllers.
    That bias will always leave smaller operators having to find slots at other airports!

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    36. Paul
    Fair comment Paul, but I think your missing the point, these airports have undergone changes and have then been organised to utilize those changes in accordance with existing flight operations! A small point `Monopoly`
    The system is not well organised!
    How many times have you been told `this update will solve all previous problems!` only to receive another to mend that one!

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Look at the inconvenience for passengers - having to commute across London in that nightmare that is London traffic - or even worse - the Tube, coming in on one flight to one airport, crossing London to another airport, to leave on another. OR to fly in to Heathrow, cross one airfield, and leave from another terminal on the same airport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Seems that a good sort out of our existing system could work wonders.
    There are numerous satellite fields that that could be used for specific purposes or aircraft size, I believe Manston was mentioned, ideal for freight with an excellent transport infrastructure! this alone would negate the need for Heathrow expansion! use of other fields should give capacity for years!

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    There is already a perfectly good airport in Kent - Manston (MSE) - with one of the widest and longest runways in the country. It has the coast on 3 sides, so flight-path disruption is minimal and disruption to wildlife minimised too. It's close to the M2 and M20 motorways so access to London by road is simple, and HS1 is a short distance away. It's the obvious choice - see

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    The emissions/harm from aircraft & road vehicles are somewhat overplayed when set against other warming factors.

    That said, as good stewardship of scarce resources it makes sense to make travel (transport) as efficient as possible. Bolting another runway onto Heathrow doesn't seem sensible from an overall efficiency p.o.v.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    There is just not enough space or infrastructure at Heathrow, Adding another runway will not limit weather or strike problems and will just add to the chaos and pollution because more landing slots will be required to pay for the expansion. I live in Scotland and always try to plan my flight transfers through other airports such as Stansted, Schipol and CdG.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I try and travel from Heathrow, or City at a pinch.
    Shun Stanstead, Luton, Gatwick like the plague. Why?
    Decent underground/DLR connections, not the infrequent, inconvenient and rip off train/bus connections the other places have. Britain needs to sort out its *trains* first, nevermind the airports

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Looks like the hypsters are at it again. The call that business is crying out for more airport capacity is laughable, business has failed and is only interested in reducing staff costs and grabbing the hidden subsidies the UK government is shelling out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.


    So it is never mind the mice and the men but let's have another white elephant and a new sacred cow. Presumably we can milk the cow to feed the elephant only will there be any grass left for the cow?

    I suppose the politicians in the UK will only wake up when the public stop dreaming. We are broke and deep in debt: there is no money other than what the BofE is printing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Where has the GREEN argument gone to in all this. An exponential increase in air traffic is devastating for the environment - its our grandchildren who will suffer. Are we not concerned about this - or can we only see what's in front of our noses and what we want for ourselves now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.


    We need to dismiss this laughable nonsense that one airport runway will save the whole nation from economic failure.

    We are in a prolonged, double dip, recession. The stagnation was precipitated and sustained by the policies of this government.

    Only 2015 will save the economy - not some runway.

    Tories: taking labours mess and making it worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    London needs more runway capacity, Heathrow might not be the best site, but it is our major International Hub Airport. Stansted has the potential to grow and hopefully the new owners will have this in mind.
    The Estuary airport is not a good option, because of the sunken munitions ship in the mouth of the Medway and also it will be sited in an area where wintering waders stay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    No Heathrow runway because it isn't practical. It will be the wrong size, in wrong place at wrong time. Much better to get going with shifting non-hub traffic out to the satellite fields, incl making proper use of Manston for the future.

    And Cleggie is part right: not a wealth tax but tax reform. More to be paid by high earners. The tax system has strangled our economy, especially transport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Oh come on BBC - why are you only reporting part of the story.
    We are told that we should reduce air travel to save the planet - thats why we are paying green taxes !
    and now we need more runways to increase capacity ?
    WHAT THE !

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Why LONDON? Why not elsewhere? Bring jobs and prosperity to other parts of this UK....heck Why not SCOTLAND? This would ensure that this tiny part of the UK will remain a part of the UK....Surely a better option for the jerry the mouse.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I've looked at the Heathrow proposal, and its not the answer.

    Boris Island as a new hub is the answer on providing the necessary future capacity that Heathrow cannot longer term, reducing holding pattern/stacking Cat A airspace over central London and facilitating jumbo A380 aircraft to the far east

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    If you want to conduct your business in our country you should pay your taxes, like the rest of us

    No more taxpayer welfare for airlines is my shout

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    45p a litre IS THE TRUE PRICE for fuel ,Its the rest of us that are being ripped off by the near 150% tax the government puts on fuel Check the price of petrol in the US ( £1 about $1.60)

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Has anybody thought of expanding “London City Airport”? There is enough space for a second runway. (Cheaper then the “Boris Island scheme”). You could even use smaller planes to feed other larger Airports like Manchester Birmingham etc. From some parts of the south east you could get to City airport and be in Edinburgh airport and on an onward flight quicker then going to Heathrow


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