The following letter was published in the Uxbridge editions of The Gazette this week (With slight amendments to fit the size limits)
With the future of commercial aviation in England now in the spotlight, many options are being put forward by government advisors and various think tanks as to how our country can remain at the forefront of this expanding business.
The Third Runway? This will mean destroying an entire community in Sipson and the Heathrow Villages, bring more noise and pollution to an area that already has some of the worst air quality in the country and will pile extra pressure on transport links that struggle to keep up with the volumes of traffic and travellers already put upon them.
Boris Island? Massively expensive, sat in the middle of a main air corridor (The equivalent of putting a bus stop on a motorway), positioned next to a nature reserve so prone to bird strike on vulnerable aircraft engines and will require major development of transport links. Activation would also see the closure of Heathrow and a huge knock on effect to local businesses and jobs in Hillingdon.
West London four runway hub? Same issues as the third runway at Heathrow, just substitute destruction of different communities.
Gatwick or Stansted? Substantial construction works required, inadequate links and runways too short for the largest aircraft.
So, to remain competitive but limit damage to communities and the environment, what is the answer? Firstly, look at the ‘Grandfather rights’ granted to airlines on slots at Heathrow and how some of the airlines fill them with empty aircraft just to deny airspace to their rivals. Secondly, the perfect ‘third runway’ already exists at Manston in Kent which is a designated divert airfield for Heathrow in case of emergency and can handle the largest of aircraft.
Manston is an existing commercial airport which can easily be linked to the HS1 railway and the Channel Tunnel providing fast access to both the continent and Central London and is close to road links from the major ports in Kent. For a fraction of the cost of the other options, Manston can be converted in to a main hub airport to complement Heathrow and provide capacity for the 21st century.
UKIP oppose expansion at Heathrow via a third runway and will be campaigning to support a referendum amongst the communities affected to give them their say on how this issue is resolved.
We will also lobby for the common sense solutions that we are putting forward to provide affordable answers to our country’s air transport requirements.