Councillors: 'Heathrow will be strong against competitors'
John Dickens and Richard Cutcher • Published 11 Sep 2012 12:30 0 Comments
PHOTO CREDIT: By 360Swift photography.
HEATHROW Airport is in a 'strong position' to fight competition for its status as Europe's premier hub airport, according to councillors.
Ambitious plans have been drawn up for a four-runway airport to rival Heathrow and challenge other European hubs in providing links to the Far East.
A Sunday newspaper revealed sites in Berkshire and Oxfordshire are being considered by a group of British businesses that has commissioned a major feasibility study for the plans - estimated to cost £40bn to £60bn.
However councillor Wayne Strutton, who represents Slough Borough Council on the Local Authorities Aircraft Noise Council (LAANC), said Heathrow is in a strong position to fight off competition.
He said: "We would lose all the rail links that we currently have to Heathrow. If the airport traffic is moved somewhere else you would have another set of 'not in my back yards'. Plus, there is a lot of potential for Heathrow to expand and evolve. We have to look at the surrounding infrastructure we already have in place to develop the airport."
Growing support for 'Boris Island' - an airport in the Thames Estuary proposed by London Mayor Boris Johnson - sparked Slough councillors to back development at Heathrow last month.
Critics including Mr Johnson fear the Government may make a U-turn on a third runaway at Heathrow. Justine Greening MP, who opposed expanding the airport, was replaced as transport secretary in the Cabinet reshuffle this week.
The appointment of Patrick McLoughlin MP, believed to be more sympathetic to the development, is being seen to signal a change in stance.
Cllr Malcolm Beer is a member of the Royal Borough's Aviation Panel and is also on the LAANC. He said: "If it was to happen I think it could complement Heathrow. The aviation industry is growing at a fast rate and we need the extra capacity. Heathrow can't expand without causing a lot of trouble and problems."
Cllr Strutton proposed moving domestic flights to the RAF Northolt base - which would free up space at Heathrow.
The LAANC has also suggested the closed RAAF Lynenham, in Wiltshire, be considered as a future airport.
He added: "Northolt could become a remote terminal to increase flight space at Heathrow. All you would need to do is build transport links between the two."
This article appeared in Royal Borough Observer 11 Sep 12