One of the team behind the rival Heathrow option says his scheme does not require a new runway just an extension of an existing one.
Jock Lowe is a long way from giving up on his Heathrow Hub idea. Howard Davies may have recommended in favour of a third runway, but he also acknowledged the merits of the Hub, arguably giving Government justification to look further at the merits of the proposal of spliting and extending the airport’s north runway – and putting the M25 in a tunnel beneath it.
Besides, said Lowe, speaking at the recent Runways UK event, “remember we are not a third runway, just a longer runway”. The point is important due to the potential political backlash of a third runway decision. Lowe’s Hub idea originated as a way of expanding capacity without putting more people under flightpaths.
"By the time we get to 2030-2040 there will be new aeroplanes. Have you seen a streamlined undercarriage? That’s what makes half the noise”
“Yes the Davies recommendation was disappointing to us, but I would point out a number of caveats and contradictions in the report which means it’s not over yet.” Lowe says.
“The best way of describing the state of play is that we’re at half time and Heathrow Airport is one nil up. Gatwick has probably been sent off the field."
Heathrow Hub based its submission to the Davies Commission on the given allowance of 700,000 aircraft movements, whereas the Airport was allowed to reckon for 740,000, Lowe says. “Well we could accommodate 740,000 too. So one of the reasons given for choosing a third runway was on the basis of economic benefit, simply because they didn’t play by the rules and put in another 40,000 slots.”
The Department for Transport now has the job of assessing the data, but the big decision is made, Lowe says. There will be airport expansion and it will be done at Heathrow, he says.
Looking at the mitigation Davies called for, are they deliverable? “These are the things I called for in the first place. They’ve borrowed my watch to tell everyone the time,” Lowe says.
“Get rid of night quota flights – quite simple. Some of the approach techniques and work on new aircraft should go ahead. By the time we get to 2030-2040 there will be new aeroplanes. Have you seen a streamlined undercarriage? That’s what makes half the noise,” he adds.
The Hub proposal has been criticised for the limit it puts on future capacity expansion and the ambitious amounts of additional construction involved in diverting the M25 in tunnel.
“If you need more there’s bigger aircraft perhaps and we could do another runway in 40 years time if really needed. Construction of the Hub by 2020 is easily achievable. We could be up and running well ahead of the other options.”