Heathrow is the dilemma of the moment for UK politicians. The world’s third-busiest airport could benefit from an additional runway, but such an expansion would inconvenience thousands of Londoners unlucky enough to live within earshot of its many airplanes. Some would suffer more than a mere inconvenience; nearly 800 homes in the area would have to be demolished for the runway to be constructed.
Beyond general concerns about noise pollution, environmentally-minded citizens have pointed out that the increased traffic would make Heathrow the UK’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
The debate got even more heated today (July 1) with the release of a long-awaited report on the proposed runway by a task force chaired by the economist Sir Howard Davies. The Davies commission concluded that a third runway at Heathrow is the ideal way to handle growing aviation needs in the UK. The £17bn ($26.5 billion) expansion would allow 250,000 more flights a year, eventually adding £150 billion and 70,000 new jobs to the British economy, according to the report.
Opponents of the Heathrow expansion, including London mayor Boris Johnson, were hoping the commission would instead recommend a new island airport in the Thames Estuary, or the construction of an additional runway at Gatwick Airport, which is 30 miles south of central London.