What we know about the Heathrow airport expansion

By Catherine Sturman
The government has today declared that the expansion of Heathrow Airport will go ahead, after years of deliberation and debate. The news of a third runw...

The government has today declared that the expansion of Heathrow Airport will go ahead, after years of deliberation and debate. The news of a third runway has been met with a mixed response from all sides, but will secure Britain’s position within the aviation industry, cater to increased demand and will boost the UK economy by approximately £60 billion. The runway will also be funded through private sector funding from Heathrow Airport Ltd.

The new 3,500-metre-long runway will require the build of a sixth terminal, but will incorporate the demolishing of approximately 800 homes. Compensation will need to be considered, with a total of £2.6 billion calculated which will ensure current homeowners will be in a position to seek new accommodation, in addition to £700 million which will be utilised for the owners of remaining homes which will need increased insulation from the noise from new flightpaths, in addition to key support throughout the expansion process.

Chris Selway, Head of the National Infrastructure and Compulsory Purchase Team at BNP Paribas Real Estate has said, “The Airports Commission covered many concerns including noise, air quality, safety, security and accident planning, but from my specialist viewpoint this is a case where the Airport must demonstrate commitment to all of those things and a speedy enhanced compensation regime to win the trust and support of local communities.”

Regarding business and trade, James Stamp, Global Head of Aviation at KPMG commented that “Now, more than ever, UK plc needs to demonstrate both its ability and willingness to connect to trading partners and investors in the rest of the world.”

The £17.6 billion project will provide a further 80,000 jobs, including apprenticeship roles, boosting employment for local citizens. The opening of the Crossrail project, which will complete in 2019 will also strengthen the UK’s central infrastructures. The HS2 will also officially complete in 2032.

The expansion project will enable links to be created with regions or countries which do not have a direct link to London, unlocking potential growth and providing increased long-term benefits for the UK economy.

Turner & Townsend, Arup, Mace and CH2M are the four main firms selected back in March to undertake the first round of works, of which further decisions regarding construction works and further projects will be undertaken in due course and will be tendered. Grimshaw Architects had previously won the bid to design the new runway prior to the government’s decision in the £18 billion project.

Vincent Clancy, CEO of the global construction consultancy Turner & Townsend has said, “The government’s backing of a third runway is both a testament to Heathrow’s economic importance and an investment in UK Plc.

The decision will give a shot in the arm to Britain’s construction industry and create thousands of jobs as the delivery phase begins. But the long-term economic prize is likely to be the huge trade potential that will be unlocked by Heathrow’s extra capacity.

The challenge for Britain’s construction industry is clear – together we must ensure that the third runway cements Heathrow’s position as the world-class, sustainable hub airport that the UK needs, and that global airlines demand.

In March we were appointed as a Programme Client Partner for the next phase of the airport’s expansion, and we look forward to supporting Heathrow at this crucial stage in its journey.”

Commencing at the start of 2017, a national policy statement (NPS) will be issued in order to take the project forward, which will be up for consultation by the public. Construction work would be set to commence in 2021 and complete in 2025.

In contrast to the positive response from local and international businesses, the expansion works have received a mixed reaction off local London communities who will appeal the project. There have also been queries raised regarding the scale of the works to be undertaken against the shortage of construction workers, with three major projects undertaken within London around the same time.

Queries regarding sustainability and air pollution have also been subjects of consideration. London's Mayor Sadiq Khan has said: “A new runway at Heathrow will be devastating for air quality across London - air pollution around the airport is already above legal levels of NO2”. His view has also been supported by Tony Arbour, Chair of the London Assembly, who has said, "We are appalled that the Government has decided to give the green light to expansion at Heathrow, despite the vast body of evidence to indicate this will expose Londoners to higher levels of deadly air pollution, intolerable noise and overwhelming congestion.”

However, with increased concerns over the long-term sustainable benefits of the expansion, the new terminal will incorporate an undulating glass roof besides many other sustainable features which will be implemented, of which Jolyon Bewis from Grimshaw Architects has commented, “the project will be a world-class sustainable airport, delivering innovation in passenger service and showcasing the best of British design”, and will ensure it will become a zero carbon space.

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Read the October 2016 issue of Construction Global magazine


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