Britain needs to build a four-runway airport in west London or north of the capital if it wants to compete with other European hubs, according to a report by UK think tank Policy Exchange.
Construction of a four runway airport close to the current Heathrow hub in west London is the best option for the UK, with a four-runway airport in Luton, north of London, the next-best solution to the capacity squeeze at UK airports, the study said.
The report, written by Tim Leunig, chief economist at the liberal think tank CentreForum, did not rule out the idea of a third runway at Heathrow, but said plans for an airport in London’s Thames Estuary – backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson and architect Lord Foster – were not practical.
Policy Exchange said an estuary airport would be too difficult to get to for too many people and would present greater construction and environmental challenges than expansion at Heathrow.
“A four-runway airport would be straightforward to construct and relatively low cost by the standards of hub airports. It causes the lowest level of disruption to the wider economy of any likely airport expansion scenario,” Leunig said.