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Thames hub airport report welcomed by transport expert
University transport economics expert Professor Roger Vickerman has welcomed a new report concluding that a hub airport - such as has been proposed for either North Kent or the Thames Estuary - is not a solution to the short-term problems of the South East's airport capacity.
Commenting on the report, issued by the South East Local Economic Partnership on 1 July, Professor Vickerman said: 'This conclusion is undoubtedly right given the inordinate time we take to plan major infrastructure in the UK. A third runway at Heathrow is probably the only way to achieve this, and even that would probably take at least 15 years (Terminal 5 took 20 years from the planning application to opening).
'However, whilst this is most probably right as the best short term solution (if 15-20 years is short-term) it may not preclude the need to look seriously at a long-term replacement for Heathrow if we take a genuinely long-term 40-50 years horizon. The government is about to issue a revised policy statement on aviation - the current one dates from 2003 - and it is important that this takes a genuine long-view and ensures that airports policy is integrated with infrastructure planning for all modes of transport.
'Piecemeal planning has got us into the situation where we have too many airports, none of which is adequately connected into the national rail system, all of which are physically constrained by location and local planning restrictions and none of which is of a size to compete effectively with other hubs.
'Heathrow, with its five scattered terminals (six if runway 3 is built) cannot present itself as a genuine integrated hub. It is an airport which people will avoid if possible and that will lead to the long-term relative decline of the connectivity of the UK to the rest of the world.'
Story published at 12:08pm 3 July 2012
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