Airport Capacity in the South-East

By now, it is likely that most have seen or heard of the Government’s decision that a new runway will be built at Heathrow.  You can read the full statement here:

In the following session at the House of Commons, Sir Roger Gale MP asked a question to Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, The Secretary of State for Transport, of how much passenger and freight business is being lost to airports in other countries and if he agreed we should use all the currently available capacity.  A rogue shout of “Manston” at the end of Sir Roger’s question from another member drew hilarity, but shows that members are very much aware of the point of his question.  Unfortunately, a representative answer was not given.

Also today, Sir Roger issued this statement:

“I welcome the Government`s long awaited announcement that a new runway will be built at Heathrow.

I have, however, highlighted the daily loss of passenger and, particularly, business to mainland European airports as a result of lack of capacity in the South East of England.

It is clear that it will be at least fifteen years before there are any aircraft wheels on new tarmac at Heathrow. As a result of the decision to leave the EU the UK is going to have to seek important markets in India, the Far East and South America as well as Africa. That is going to mean a further increase in the demand for air freight. We either use the currently available capacity or that traffic will fly into France, Germany and the Netherlands and will then have to be transported by road to Britain.

It is vital, in the national interest, that we recognise this and that Manston Airport in Kent is re-opened, initially as a freight hub, in the shortest time possible. Those that are seeking to resist this course of action are clearly more self-interested in property development for short-term profit than they are in the future of UK limited.”

You can watch the rest of the Commons debate on Airport Capacity at the link below, which includes Zac Goldsmith MP at 13:37:16, regional slot protection at 13:38:03 and at various other points, plus Kelly Tolhurst MP on the blight of the possibility of an Estuary Airport at 14:21:14

Elsewhere, Zac Goldsmith has acted as he promised and later resigned as MP because Heathrow was selected and triggers a by-election where he will stand as an independent. Boris Johnston MP is stating what many others have also said, that the runway at Heathrow is undeliverable:

Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP described Heathrow expansion as “politically toxic” to London.

On social media, there has been an explosion in the number of tweets about the use of Manston.  If you haven’t already got involved, please help to spread the word.

The tweets included these from two of the potential UKIP leaders:

@SuzanneEvans1: Pity SW Londoners. Should be relieving pressure by restarting airports like Manston for freight at less cost. Come join @UKIP Zac! #Heathrow

@SuzanneEvans1: To those of you correctly pointing out Thanet council position on #Manston, as @UKIP leader I’d be pushing for a fresh assessment. #heathrow

@RaheemKassam: As an Uxbridge boy and someone who pays close attn to natl infrastructure I heavily oppose Heathrow expansion. Build up Gatwick & Manston.

In the media during the day, this was an interesting comment on

“Sadly, the few places that would have welcomed airport expansion, such as Manston in Kent, were felt to be unsuitable. Despite significant local opposition, Manston has now been closed and the site is scheduled for redevelopment. A public inquiry is to be held into its future.”

Let us hope in the days, weeks and months ahead, now that a decision has been made, thoughts can turn to how capacity will be dealt with in the time before any new runway is built and to include proper consideration of regional airport facilities as appears to be finally hinted at.


Main Image: By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (BA Terminal Heathrow) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons