The chief executive of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, has outlined his plans for the airport’s expansion to the public.
At a consultation meeting held on Wednesday, Holland-Kaye apologised for previous broken promises, and set out his plans for the development of the airport, including its impact on the local community.
He told the public that he was “shocked” that previous airport leaderships had promised that a third runway would never be built. “[That promise] should never have been made. And it could never be kept. I am sorry Heathrow made that commitment,” Holland-Kaye said.
In stating his case for the expansion of Heathrow, Holland-Kaye said that the project could generate up to £211 billion (US$331bn) of economic growth and create up to 180,000 new jobs across the UK. He also asserted that “unemployment [in West London and the Thames Valley] could be cut by 50% and youth unemployment in surrounding boroughs could end”.
He admitted however, that noise is “one of the biggest issues” facing the expansion.
“Although Heathrow is now quieter than it’s been at any time since the 1970s, we know many people are still disturbed by noise,” Holland-Kaye said. “Our proposed runway is now located farther west to reduce the number of people affected by noise, and the approach is over the M4. The longer runway allows respite from noise for every community,” he said.
Holland-Kaye also revealed that he has written to the CEOs of 40 airlines who do not comply with Heathrow’s quieter operating procedures, asking them to take steps to do so. He added that a project to insulate local schools against noise will be complete by the end of February.
There are some issues that cannot be overcome however, such as the demolition of 750 homes to make way for the new runway. Holland-Kaye admitted that he was “acutely aware” of this “difficult and emotive” issue, and promised to treat the people losing their homes “fairly”.
“Lack of capacity at Heathrow is restricting Britain’s economic growth, constraining exports, limiting inward investment and jobs,” Holland-Kaye stated. “That is why we are having this discussion once again.
“This is a debate about the future of our country. Whether we have the ambition for to win the race for growth, to help Britain stay right at the heart of the global economy, as we have been for centuries.”