|Quoting CapEd388 (Reply 15):|
I found it interesting to learn how things work over there.
Thanks. In my opinion the most significant difference between the UK and the USA is space availability. We have a population (62 million) of one-fifth of that of the US. Yet the UK (94,247 square miles) is smaller than Colorado (104, 104 sq m). It is only 2.6 per cent the area of the USA (3,,618,766 sq m).
Like Colorado's Rocky Mountains, the UK has its own sparsely populated regions. They include the Scottish Highlands and Islands, the Lake District and Pennines in northern England and the Welsh Mountains. There are therefore huge pressures both to build on and not to build on green field sites in other more populous areas. The population is still expanding (from 58.7 million in 2001) and so much local land is already urbanised. In terms of the London area the population density has been variously assessed as being the third and the sixth highest in the world.
I believe the balance in views between a third LHR
runway and its replacement by a new airport in the Thames Estuary has yet to be realistically established.
The third runway option would require the destruction of the village of Sipson and around 600 home. It would also increase noise pollution over west London.
The construction of a new airport would move 76,500 LHR
on-airport jobs away from Heathrow. It would reduce off-airport direct and indirect jobs that would simply disappear. It was recently estimated that 220,000 such jobs were dependent on just long-haul flights out of LHR
The local area would loose, for example, its status as a major hospitality industry centre as many hotels closed. This site lists what it calls 125 "Heathrow Hotels":
although some are not exactly just down the road from the airport. However each one is likely to see at least some loss of business and most would likely close.
It is also not a coincidence that many multinational corporations have a significant local presence. Glaxo-Smith-Kline are HQed at Brentford, BSkyB are at Osterly, BP
have a significant presence at Sunbury and, of course, BA
are at Harmondsworth, all close to Heathrow. Many years ago my own American then employer moved its European HQ
and my job from central London to Hammersmith, just down the M4
I do not think the environmental impact of the estuary airport has yet been fully evaluated. The proposal includes an estuary barrier. How that would effect both estuary wildlife and the tides and therefore the flooding of land areas to the east of the barrier has not yet, to my knowledge, yet been fully understood. (I believe the barrier is necessary to protect the proposed airport from a tidal surge like that of 1953 in which 1,836 people died. The casualties were mainly in Zeeland in the Netherlands. But they included 307 in England, primarily on the north side of the Thames estuary.)
I also think there must be some doubt about costings of the proposed estuary airport. Its proponents are quoting a figure of £20 billion to build an airport to handle 150 million passengers a year. They also quote a further £20 billion to be spent on new ground transport infrastructure to get passengers and employees to and from the airport and £10 billion on other infrastructure that presumably includes homes, schools and other facilities for the 100,000 airport employees and their families and the 250,000+ direct and indirect off-airport jobs that would be created in Kent and Essex to the south and north of the airport.
£20 billion to build the proposed airport seems to me (with no expertise in the area of construction costs) to be a very low figure . Why? Well compare £20 billion to recover land from the sea, build an estuary barrier and construct a four-runway airport to handle 150 million passengers with the actual cost of LHR T5
. With construction starting in 2002 it cost £4 billion. With actual inflation that £4 billion would be £5.2 billion if construction started today.
is only big enough to handle 35 million passengers a year. So, the proposed airport will need four and one quarter times the terminal capacity to handle the proposed passenger numbers. Pro rata, (with an allowance for inflation over the ten years since the construction of T5
started), that cost would be £22 billion in today's £s. That leaves less than nothing to recover the land from the sea, build 4 runways, build all the associated taxiways and construct all the other necessary airport infrastructure. That infrastructure would range from a control tower to aircraft maintenance and cargo handling facilities and all the office accommodation for the desk jobs at the airport plus the usual facilities required at all airports such as car parks. And , of course, the estimated cost does not include the additional off-airport investment in facilities like new hotels without which the airport could not function properly.
In addition to these costs there would be the investment required in the Heathrow area in order to stimulate the economy following the sudden loss of several hundred thousand jobs and the impact on, for example, the local real estate market.