Essay on Building a Third Runway at Heathrow Airport
Number of words: 1682
Heathrow Airport is one of the largest and busiest airports in the world. It serves over eighty million passengers annually (Edgington, 2020). Currently, it has four terminuses and two runways. However, there has been a plan to expand it by adding a third runway because of the airport’s capacity issues. The issue of building a third runway at Heathrow had been very debatable; some people feel that another runway would be beneficial while others are opposed to the idea of Heathrow’s expansion. Economists and politicians in favor of building the third runway anticipate economic benefits in terms of revenue and jobs. On the other hand, environmentalists are concerned that expanding the airport would increase the level of carbon emissions at a time when climate change is a trending issue. Nonetheless, a third runway should be built at Heathrow Airport not only because it would lead to enormous economic benefit, but also to deal with the predicted growth in air travel.
Tom Edgington (2020), while writing for BBC, published an article explaining the plan for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Edgington (2020) explains that Heathrow is the busiest airport in the UK; it has close to one hundred million passengers annually. Currently, the airport has two runways and four terminuses. Expanding the airport by building a third runway would mean diverting features such as rivers and roads and moving homes. Also, the M25, a major motorway in the UK, would have to be reconstructed to pass under the new runway. The article was useful for this research paper because it mentions the arguments for and against the building of the third runway at Heathrow. For instance, while the third runway would benefit the UK’s economy through revenue and jobs, it would also result in more noise and air pollution.
In an article in The Newyork Times, Mueller and Landler (2020) report on the decision by the UK Court of Appeal to block the expansion of Heathrow Airport. In the landmark ruling, the UK Court of Appeal declared that the UK government failed to address its commitment to protecting the environment by reducing carbon emissions. Mueller and Landler (2020) say, “the $18 billion runway project would enable about 700 more planes a day to use Heathrow, but it would drive up the airport’s carbon dioxide emissions, not to speak of the extra noise.” According to Mueller and Landler (2020), this was tha first court decision that weighed a country’s development plans against its promises in the Paris Agreement on climate change. However, the court decision left an opportunity for the government to reconstruct its plans for Heathrow’s expansion to include steps to protect the environment and try again. This article was useful for the research paper because it provides evidence on why a third runway at Heathrow Airport should not be built as yet.
Calder (2020), in an article published by the Independent, wrote about the recommendations given by Heathrow Airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye on not writing off Heathrow’s expansion plan. Calder (2020) quotes John Holland, “I think in 10 or 15 years, if the UK economy has recovered, that we will need a third runway to serve the UK? Yes, I do.” According to Calder (2020), expanding Heathrow and building a third runway would be essential in boosting the UK’s economy and helping it recover from the Covid 19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the article also mentions opposing views such as remarks by Cait Hewitt, the second in command at Aviation Environment Federation, who argues that no more runways should be built. Instead, Cait Hewitt proposes that the government should seek to support the development of low-carbon transport (Calder, 2020). This article is crucial in writing the research paper because it provides evidence for whether or not a third runway should be built at Heathrow Airport. However, the writer fails to incorporate essential details such as how the plan for expansion of Heathrow Airport was unable to comply with the Parie Agreement on climate change.
Joe Baker (2020) wrote an article to publish results from a Survey done by Airport Technology to find out whether another runway at Heathrow Aiport would be worth the cost. From the survey that involved more than three thousand respondents, about half were confident that having a third runway was worth the economic and environmental implications involved. However, thirty-eight percent of the respondents felt that having another runway at Heathrow was not worth it, while thirteen percent of the respondents were unsure (Baker, 2020). The article also outlines how the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic could lead to more delays in the plan for expanding Heathrow Airport. However, the article is relevant in this research paper in showing how people feel about building another runway at Heathrow Airport.
The first reason why a third runway should be built at Heathrow Airport is that it would lead to great economic benefit. According to Edgington (2020), building a third runway at Heathrow would increase the UK’s revenue by sixty-one billion Euros. UK’s Department for Transport also estimates that Heathrow’s expansion would create over seventy thousand jobs by 2030 (Edgington, 2020). Additionally, expanding Heathrow airport would strengthen the UK’s international trade since forty percent of its exports to countries outside the European Union pass through Heathrow Aiport. If Heathrow airport is not expanded with another runway, future exports by the UK may need to pass through Paris to get to their destinations (Edgington, 2020). Moreover, Pettinger et al. (2019) argue that “without increasing airport capacity, the UK will lose out on business competitiveness and tourism.” Due to its location, Heathrow is the quickest site to build an international airport hub that would boost the UK’s tourism sector (Pettinger et al., 2019). Therefore, building a third runway at Heathrow Airport would boost the UK’s economy significantly.
The second reason why a third runway should be built at Heathrow Airport is to deal with the predicted growth in air travel. Research shows that air travel has been on the rise, and as the years advance, there is a need to expand capacity for air travel. For instance, in 2000, the UK’s Department for transport forecast that air travel in the UK would increase from 160 million passengers per year in 1998 to 400 million passengers per year in 2020 (Pettinger et al., 2019). The forecast by the UK’s Department for Transport also predicts that air travel would increase from 400 million passengers per year in 2020 to 600 million passengers per year by 2030 in the UK (Pettinger et al., 2019). This shows that the capacity of airports cannot continue to remain the same if the UK is to meet its demand for air travel. Another research by the International Air Transport Association shows that air travel will increase to over 8.2 billion passengers in the world annually by 2037 (Hotten, 2019). Therefore, to deal with the growing demand for air travel, a third runway at Heathrow Airport should be built.
However, some people might argue that expanding Heathrow Aiport poses adverse environmental dangers to not only the UK but also the rest of the world. Flying airplanes results in the emission of CO2 and other dangerous gases that lead to global warming and climate change (Pettinger et al., 2019). While this is true, it is important to note that the air transport industry is advancing in technology that would mean the reduction of the level of CO2 emission. For example, Rolls-Royce, one of the most renowned aero-engine manufacturers, has been working in the Ultra-Fan, a technology that promises to have planes that are 25% more fuel-efficient (Future of Flight, n.d.). Elsewhere, Airbus is still hopeful in the development of a hybrid-electric airplane that could mean an end to the use of carbon-emitting fuels in planes (Hotten, 2019). Also, the decision by the UK’s Court of Appeal to stop Heathrow’s expansion was an opportunity for the government to reconsider its plan and include steps to for environmental safety as per the Paris Agreement on climate change. This means that there is still much that can be done to protect the environment from CO2 emissions before greenlight is given for building a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
In summary, a third runway should be built at Heathrow because of the robust economic benefits it presents and also to deal with the rising demand for air travel. However, the UK government should also put in place adequate measures to protect the environment from the adverse effects of CO2 emissions from planes. Also, further research on electric and hybrid-electric planes should continue so that one day planes can fly without emitting dangerous gases to the environment.
Baker, J. (2020, April 03). Heathrow third runway: Would it still be worth the cost? Retrieved July 07, 2020, from https://www.airport-technology.com/features/heathrow-third-runway/
Edgington, T. (2020, February 28). Heathrow expansion: What is the third runway plan? Retrieved July 07, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/explainers-51646562
Future of flight. (n.d.). Retrieved July 07, 2020, from https://www.rolls-royce.com/media/our-stories/innovation/2016/advance-and-ultrafan.aspx
Hotten, R. (2019, May 10). Could aviation ever be less polluting? Retrieved July 07, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/business-48185337
Mueller, B., & Landler, M. (2020, February 27). U.K. Court Blocks Heathrow Airport Expansion on Environmental Grounds. Retrieved July 07, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/world/europe/heathrow-airport-third-runway-uk.html
Pettinger, T., Stroffolino, G., Chloe, David, Dannenberg, R., Babatunde, . . . Freddie. (2019, May 17). Pros and Cons of Heathrow Expansion. Retrieved July 07, 2020, from https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/6083/economics/pros-and-cons-of-heathrow-expansion/
Simon Calder Travel Correspondent. (2020, May 02). Heathrow boss claims the third runway is still on track. Retrieved July 07, 2020, from https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/heathrow-third-runway-expansion-terminal-british-airways-ceo-a9495126.html