10 reasons to stop Heathrow expansion

Posted by jossc — 2 November 2007 at 11:09am - Comments
  1. Heathrow is already Europe's largest airport [i]: adding a third runway will mean a 70 per cent[ii] increase in flight numbers and resulting rises in climate change pollution. It's crazy to be paving the way for such big increases in greenhouse gases when we should be doing all we can to reduce emissions.

  2. We'll miss our climate change targets: the plan for Heathrow is one of 20 airport expansion plans across the country. Scientists have warned us that allowing these to go ahead will significantly undermine the UK's ability to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and stop the worst effects of climate change.
  3. It's unnecessary: almost a quarter of flights from Heathrow are to destinations less than 500 km away and already well served by train[iii]. Substituting these flights for train services would reduce the need for extra capacity at Heathrow and have significant environmental benefits, as train travel does ten times less damage to the climate than flying[iv].

  4. The current growth in air travel has damaging effects on the UK economy: 67 per cent[v] of passengers traveling on flights from UK airports are UK residents. This means fewer people holidaying at home which is contributing to a £17 billion annual tourist deficit in the UK[vi].

  5. A third runway will cause 750 homes to be demolished: this means displacing thousands of people and removing an entire village - Sipson in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

  6. Building a third runway will mean more noise pollution across London and the South East: an extra 900 flights day will go overhead[vii].

  7. It will increase local levels of dangerous nitrous oxide (NOx) pollution: NOx is linked to increased instances of asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis and Heathrow is already in danger of breaching EU limits on NOx levels.

  8. British Airways is putting profit before the environment: along with others in the aviation industry, BA is denying the impact its industry is having on the climate and is pushing for a third runway at all cost.

  9. The aviation industry is dictating government policy: New Labour operates a revolving door with companies like BA and has allowed the industry to shape policies which have massive implications for the environment.

  10. Airport expansion is unpopular: 70 per cent of people in the UK are opposed to building bigger airports[viii].


Heathrow Voices Tour schedule

[i] World Development Movement,, UK Airports and their CO2 emissions, press release, October 11th 2007


[ii] Gillion Merron MP, Answer to Parliamentary Question, May 10th 2007

[iii] HACAN, Short-Haul Flights: Clogging up Heathrow's Runways, 2006

[iv] DfT estimate that short haul air emits 0.15 kg/CO2 per passenger km. This multiplied by 2.7 (the IPCC's best estimate for the impact of radiative forcing) equals 0.405. Dft estimates rail on average emits 0.04 kg/CO2 per passenger km, approximately 10% of 0.405.

[v] Cairns et al, Predict and Decide: Aviation, Climate Change and UK Policy, Oxford Environmental Change Institute, 2006 p5

[vi] Press Association (January 3, 2006) UK tourism deficit hits £17bn, business.guardian.co.uk

[vii] Gillion Merron MP, Answer to Parliamentary Question, May 10th 2007

[viii] IPSOS MORI October 2007

About Joss

Bass player and backing vox in the four piece beat combo that is the UK Greenpeace Web Experience. In my 6 years here I've worked on almost every campaign and been fascinated by them all to varying degrees. Just now I'm working on Peace and Oceans - which means getting rid of our Trident nuclear weapons system and creating large marine reserves so that marine life can get some protection from overfishing.

Follow Greenpeace UK