Heathrow Airport: TfL criticises third runway proposal

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Media captionSir Howard Davies criticised the mayor before the Transport Select Committee

Transport for London has criticised the Airport Commission's call for a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick.

It said it favoured a long-term solution to expanding the UK's airport capacity, such as building a new airport.

TfL said the commission lacked "long-term vision" and placed more weight on "short-term commercial interests".

TfL's chairman Boris Johnson has called for a new airport in the Thames Estuary, nicknamed Boris Island.

The commission has said it is carrying out "a thorough, comprehensive and transparent study" of airport capacity in the UK.

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Image caption Alternatives to a Heathrow expansion include a new hub east of the capital and expansions of Gatwick or Stansted

Options floated by the commission include the creation of a third runway at Heathrow, or extending the northern runway to the west.

Both would cause at least 750 homes to be demolished.

But TfL believes the extra runway would have swallowed all potential for growth by 2030, meaning domestic destinations would be "traded off against lucrative long-haul routes".

Only a new four-runway hub could address this issue properly, TfL says.

'Vulgar abuse'

A TfL spokesman said: "The interim report and the recently published appraisal criteria places more weight on accommodating short-term commercial interests, than a strategic vision for aviation which is able to secure the UK's long-term economic prosperity.

"The commission identify a significant capacity gap in 2050, but do not address this. They focus instead on runway capacity options to 2030.

"This does not provide the UK with a long-term plan."

The chairman of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, has accused Mr Johnson of directing "vulgar abuse" at his group because "we don't seem to have produced the answer he wanted us to produce."

Speaking to the Transport Select Committee, Sir Howard dismissed what London Mayor Mr Johnson said about the commission's report.

"The mayor has a particular view about hub capacity and a particular view about Heathrow and that's where he starts and that's where he ends," he said.

"Anything that's at variance with that is dismissed.

"Personally I don't think it's at all helpful that he uses this rather colourful language, but I guess that's a matter of style; but I don't think it particularly illuminates the debate to do so."

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