New poll demonstrates public support for runway development in the south east

Airport expansion lobby group Let Britain Fly urges rapid decision from new government in response to Davies Commission recommendations.

Runway debate

Runway expansion in the south east is supported by the public three to one, according to a new survey published this week.

As the aviation sector awaits imminent publication of the Davies Commission recommendations on whether to expand capacity at Heathrow or Gatwick, the independent poll shows that more people support airport expansion than oppose it in every region of the UK.

“Once the Airports Commission has published its final report in the coming weeks, the Government must grasp the moment and give the go ahead to build a new runway in a timely manner, so we can ensure spades are in the ground by 2020," Gavin Hayes, Let Britain Fly

The survey, carried out by Populus for airport expansion lobby group Let Britain Fly, also highlighted public support three to one for an early decision by the new Tory Government, using its post Election mandate to make this potentially controversial decision.

“It is clear there is strong public support for new runways and for Ministers to make an early decision,” said Gavin Hayes, Director of Let Britain Fly. 

“Once the Airports Commission has published its final report in the coming weeks, the Government must grasp the moment and give the go ahead to build a new runway in a timely manner, so we can ensure spades are in the ground by 2020,” he added. “With all of London’s airports filling up fast we cannot afford any further dither or delay.”

The poll comes a week after 100 key UK business leaders signed a letter urging David Cameron’s new Tory government to act decisively on the final recommendation of the Davies Airports Commission. 

Signatories include a large number of business leaders from Britain’s top firms including many from the FTSE 100; alongside the heads of business organisations including the British Chambers of Commerce, IOD, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and London First.

This week’s poll targeted members of the public and questioned 2159 respondents nationwide on the 6th and 7th of May.

The results showed

  • 45% supported new runways being built and 16% opposed.
  • In London support for building new runways rises to 52% and just 14% oppose.
  • 45% supported the new Government making a quick decision to expand airport capacity and just 13% opposed.
  • Over two thirds (69%) support airports being obliged to support improvements to public transport links if given the green-light to expand.
  • 58% support the Government establishing an independent aviation noise authority to help address the concerns of communities affected by aircraft noise. 

The Davies Commission has been preparing  its recommendations having shortlisted three options for runway expansion – two at Heathrow and one at Gatwick – last September and promised to publish its recommendation after following the General Election.

However, despite commitment to the Davies Commission process, the Conservative manifesto commits only to “respond to the Airports Commission’s final report”,  raising doubts over the potential to revisit the proposal and possibly bring an Estuatry Airport plan back onto the table.

The prospect of other potential delays to the publication of the Davies Commission recommendation include a review of likely impacts of runway capacity expansion on London’s air quality.

“It is right and proper that the Airports Commission robustly addresses all of the key obstacles to airport expansion in its Final Report, that the entire process is rigorous and that the final recommendation meets all the legal requirements, including on air quality,” said Hayes. 

“It’s important that when all is said and done the Government is presented with a solution that’s workable and can be swiftly implemented,” he added. “Therefore whilst any delay in the publication of the final report is in some respects frustrating, extending the process by just a few weeks could be a sensible course of action and time well spent if it successfully avoids significant delay further down the line.”

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It's worth considering if the >2000 respondents to this "survey" by Messrs Populus, on the day before and day of the recent general election, were of the same quality and veracity as the responses given by their "panel" for voting intentions! Remember too, that Populus take their commissions from anyone, and they also act for the pro-Heathrow lobby and Heathrow Airport Limited. Are there any links to the "Let Britain Fly" bunch (fly where?)? We don't know, but based on past criticisms of Populus' methodology, their credentials as a pollster portraying public opinion is questionable. It's worth also noting serious opposition to Heathrow expansion from groups such as HACAN, StopHeathrowExpansion, and individuals (me!). A "quick decision" (above) is one thing we do NOT need - a considered and transparently supported decision would be appropriate. (Transparency is more than the catalogue of meeting dates on the Airports Commission website). It is also frustrating that the Airports Commission have published 54 reports to date discretely while continuing with their limited availability (12-week) windows for "consultation" - currently Air Quality at Heathrow and Gatwick is open. This step-by-step basis has a sequitur of one compendium report - available sometime this summer (is that in doubt?) and thus with potentially too short a period for analysis and criticism of the sectoral, and overall, findings.
A quick decision on Heathrow expansion is not going to happen. Residents and local politicians are deeply skeptical about claims being made relating to any possible benefits. We know that the negative impact will be huge and London is not going to let this happen.
In fact support for expansion was less than half - 45% - of those polled
Public transportation is certainly very necessary in all cities and metros. Different modes of public transportation like: Bus transportation, transportation through Train and Fight are the important transport services and these service are really so much for we people. Thanks for this article news.