A long-awaited report on the expansion of Heathrow – the world’s busiest airport – added more heat on Wednesday as London sizzled on the hottest day since 2006 with a temperature of 35 degrees, sparking intense debate on a new proposed runway.
At least one village near Heathrow will be wiped off the map if the Airport Commission’s recommendation for a third runway at Heathrow – instead of at Gatwick – is accepted by the David Cameron government.
The expansions is considered necessary to meet increasing demands of international air travel on Heathrow and to face off competition from other European airports. The new runway would add 147 billion pounds in economic growth, the commission said.
Many leading lights inside and outside the Cameron government are opposed to the new runway, including Cameron, who has previously promised to oppose it. The issue will figure prominently in the forthcoming election of the next London mayor.
Residents of Harmondsworth village near Heathrow expressed shock. The village will need to be flattened to make way for the runway that environmental groups say will cause much damage to people’s lives in terms of noise and air pollution.
Commission chairman Howard Davies said the new runway will connect Britain to 40 new destinations: "The best answer is to expand Heathrow's capacity through a new north-west runway. Heathrow is best placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets”.
However, London mayor and Conservative MP Boris Johnson said: "It's not going to happen”, adding that the "discomfort being endured" by Londoners on the hottest day of the year "would be nothing compared to the noise pollution that will be visited on hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent people and the vehicular pollution as a result of a catastrophic decision to increase runway capacity in the west of the city".
One of the foremost opponents of Heathrow expansion, Johnson favours a new airport in the Thames estuary.There are five airports in the London area: Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted and Luton.