British transportation systems are in constant need of upgrade and expansion, as visitor numbers and population figures continue to rise. Earlier this week approval was given to building a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
Reporter: Jack Leslie | Sub-Editor: Marwa Khalifa
Of course, these are the very early stages of another runway being constructed at the United Kingdom’s busiest airport – 75 million passengers used Heathrow in 2015. But if it does turn into reality, what are the pros and cons of a third runway?
One major positive is an increased number of routes for people to travel on, with reports of up to 40 new destinations being added with a third runway. It would give the UK direct access to new places and increase the number of journeys to existing destinations.
Another pro for a third runway is to cater for the increased number of flights in and out of the UK. Without expansion and upgrades, transportation systems would clog up and it could lead to major problems. A new runway will almost certainly mean new airport infrastructure too.
Additional jobs will also open for the construction and running of a third runway, with predictions of around 77,000 local jobs becoming available over the next 15 years or so. That would be a big boost to UK employment and the economy.
More flights will also mean London and the UK is more accessible than ever for tourists, which will be another boost for the economy and the British capital itself. Competition between airlines could also bring down ticket fares.
With the positives come the negatives, though. The major ‘con’ for those living close to Heathrow will be the increased noise and air pollution, which are already at high levels with two runways and the high frequency of flights in and out. This is a big concern for residents and those on the flight paths.
Another downside for a third runway will be the disruption to transport links. Inevitably there will be delays to the M25 should the runway be constructed on top of it, or with a ramp above it. There could also be an impact on other road networks and the tube system, which could need changing.
A new runway will also see the destruction of several thousand homes in the local area, to make way for it and the overall airport expansion. This is clearly not fair for anyone who lives near Heathrow and could lose their home, but is a sacrifice that would need to be taken for the plan to go ahead.
With more flights to London, increased tourism could cause overcrowding in central London and on transport networks like the tube. It’s also a slower expansion plan compared to others like a new runway at Gatwick Airport, which will mean we have to wait longer to reap the rewards of the expansion.