Heathrow's third runway: planning permission a big question mark
The decision to go ahead with a third runway for Heathrow Airport could be jeopardised as planning permission will not be obtained before the next general election, warns leading industry body the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
Christopher Snelling, FTA's Head of Global Supply Chain Policy, said:
“Geoff Hoon has made the right decision on Heathrow, helping to secure Britain's status as the commercial hub of Northern Europe. But we are not holding our breath just yet as planning permission to start building the runway is unlikely until after the next general election. With opposition parties seemingly against any expansion whatsoever, Heathrow's future as northern Europe's commercial hub remains in jeopardy.”
Heathrow's significance to the UK's logistics industry must not be overlooked. Snelling continued:
“Few people realise that around 90 per cent of all air freight is moved by passenger plane and Heathrow accounts for over half of the UK's air freight by weight, so its operational efficiency has a huge impact on UK and international business.”
Even with three runways, Heathrow will still be a poor relation in comparison with rivals like Schipol Airport (Amsterdam) with five and Charles de Gaulle (Paris) with four.
FTA welcomes news that the extra runway will be accompanied by strict new emissions standards for aircraft, which will mean that only the most fuel-efficient aircraft will be allowed to use it. Environmentally-harmful holding patterns could also be reduced thanks to the extra runway capacity.
Air services are becoming increasingly vital to UK trade, especially with fast-growing emerging economies, such as China, and for trade in high-value goods and services. Air freight also plays a crucial but sometimes underestimated role in allowing developing nations, like Africa, trade in fresh produce with the UK.