Heathrow gets the nod for expansion

The Airports Commission says a third runway at Heathrow is the best option for Britain.

15-7-2-plane-634

Air traffic over southwest London could be about to get busier

After three years of deliberation, the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, has said that a third runway at Heathrow is the best way to expand southeast England's airport capacity, offering "the greatest strategic and economic benefits". The project, expected to cost £18bn, could be completed by 2026, adding £147bn to the economy over 60 years.

However, a second runway at Gatwick remains "a credible" option. It urged the government to reach a decision quickly. Last year, Heathrow lost its position as top international passenger hub to Dubai.

What the commentators said

Bolstering this key national infrastructure won't suit those who live under the flight path, but they have been unhappy with it since the 1940s. As long as strict noise and time restrictions are observed, as the report recommends, this is the right result.

The ball is now in the government's court, said John Longworth, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce. "If ministers duck this decision, and delay airport expansion for another generation, British business and our overall competitiveness will pay the price." But duck it they probably will.

Witness "the mystifying spectacle of ministers keeping at arm's length" a £20m, three-year report that they asked for, said Sam Coates in The Times. The problem is that the Tories expected to be able to come to an agreement with the Lib Dems, who were anti-Heathrow, while Nick Clegg was pro-Gatwick. Heathrow could have been ditched in favour of Gatwick, "and both sides would have been happy to let the Lib Dems take both the credit and the blame".

Now, with the Tories governing alone, all the "factions and divisions" within the party have surfaced, said Robert Lea in The Times. Get set for a long wait, said the Daily Mail's Laura Chesters. British Airways boss Willie Walsh says he doesn't think the Heathrow expansion will happen in his lifetime because "politicians have not been brave enough to make a decision".

Recommended

How the government can give our start-up businesses a hand up
UK Economy

How the government can give our start-up businesses a hand up

Government cash might be nice, but there are better things it could do for start-up businesses, says Matthew Lynn
1 Aug 2021
Quantitative easing: too much of a good thing
UK Economy

Quantitative easing: too much of a good thing

The Bank of England is addicted to quantitative easing (QE), the House of Lords has warned. What does that mean for investors?
26 Jul 2021
The myth of hypothecated taxes
Tax

The myth of hypothecated taxes

The government wants to add a penny on our National Insurance contributions to pay for social care. But it won’t, says Merryn Somerset Webb. It will j…
23 Jul 2021
Lockdown Day saw the market hit rock bottom – could Freedom Day mark a top?
UK stockmarkets

Lockdown Day saw the market hit rock bottom – could Freedom Day mark a top?

When the UK locked down against Covid, markets plunged, but recovered quickly. Could England’s removal of restrictions mark the market top, asks John …
19 Jul 2021

Most Popular

Why the UK's 2.5% inflation is a big deal
Inflation

Why the UK's 2.5% inflation is a big deal

After years of inflation being a financial-assets problem, it is now an “ordinary things” problem too, says Merryn Somerset Webb. But central banks st…
16 Jul 2021
The MoneyWeek Podcast: Asia, financial repression and the nature of capitalism
Economy

The MoneyWeek Podcast: Asia, financial repression and the nature of capitalism

Russell Napier talks to Merryn about financial repression – or "stealing money from old people slowly" – plus how Asian capitalism is taking over in t…
16 Jul 2021
Three companies that are reaping the rewards of investment
Share tips

Three companies that are reaping the rewards of investment

Professional investor Edward Wielechowski of the Odyssean Investment Trust highlights three stocks that have have invested well – and are able to deal…
19 Jul 2021