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The proposals for a third runway at Heathrow, (Project ID: 03179476) have been widely reported in the media and certainly have divided public opinion. At what cost, exactly, could this project be constructed? The build value alone is £9 billion and will include a new terminal building, but with resident pressure groups and nature conservationists against proposals, it’s not clear what the future holds for this project?

Interestingly, Heathrow Airport’s T5 is in the top three most popular airport terminals in the UK, having faced similar opposition when plans were announced, so it is clear travellers entering and departing are liking what they see.

Glenigan is currently tracking a number of large airport proposals. Caroline Lockyer, Glenigan’s resident expert in Civil Projects provides an overview of the major schemes.

‘Boris Island’ (Project ID: 90310597), so called following support from the London Mayor, is all but deceased; however, it is one of three proposals announced In July 2013 by The Mayor to increase airport capacity in the UK. His ambitious plans still include a four runway hubs on an artificial island in the Thames Estuary (Boris Island).

He also set out proposals for a hub on the Isle of Grain in Kent (Project ID: 90310597) or expanding Stansted Airport with four new runways in Essex (Project ID: 12342796) and declared `developing Heathrow would be crackers’.

Due to budgetary constraints, the likelihood of these projects moving forward any time soon is in doubt, but could the Mayor of London’s proposals have some merit? A surge in South East airport infrastructure and therefore employment in these areas, as Boris stated, would create up to 375,000 jobs by 2050. He also stated one of the benefits of the Thames Estuary project, would be removing the problem of noise pollution, which is certainly one of the issues raised by people against additional runway facilities at Heathrow.

Boris also said that one of the benefits of expanding Stansted Airport is they will be building on the existing infrastructure, therefore none of the environmental or wildlife issues would need to be overcome (as they would in the estuary). Environmental issues are also a huge concern for those keeping a close eye on progress at Heathrow.

With more airports continuing to welcome budget airlines, are they killing off rail proposals, such as High Speed Two (HS2)? (Project ID’s: 07309143 & 12016346). HS2 has not received positive press today (27th August 2013) with reports saying that business leaders have described the Government’s proposal as a ‘grand folly’, and Labour Party support for the project is wavering.

Letting the train take the strain can also stretch commuters’ coffers, as by today’s prices, Easyjet say they can jet you from Glasgow to Bristol for £53, while the cost of the equivalent train would be £141. The airlines can afford this, but with fuel prices having risen, just how long will this continue? (A question we have been asking for a while now!).

Another report suggests that the proposed Edinburgh Tram scheme, to enhance airport travel between Aberdeen and Prestwick airports, will have a longer journey time than the existing bus route.

It may raise more questions than it answers, but this airbus type of transport run by the budget airlines, is quicker and cheaper, so how much do we, or even should we, question the need and expansion programmes for our Great British Airports?

Aberdeen Airport passenger numbers were up 6.8% in July 2013 and today announced they have launched a new route to Norway. BMI Regional fly 450 flights to 24 different destinations per week. This popular Scottish airport also has proposals in the pipeline for a taxiway/runway of £55 million (Project ID: 12115923), a £20 million search area and baggage reclaim area (Project ID: 12115921), departure lounge of £20 million (Project ID: 12115919) and a £5 million food court and retail area (Project ID: 12115922) for the expanding number of passengers.

West Midlands airport expansion plans came under fire early this month by the MP for Coventry, Mr Dan Byles. Birmingham Airport are proposing a new £65 million second runway which will create much needed employment in the area, however, it would appear local people are unhappy with the scheme.

They feel they have taken on board the M42 works, the Toll Road, then HS2 and now the new runway. The changing face of their infrastructure hangs in the balance as support is considerably lacking from councillors too. Locals also fear their views are ignored and will continue to protest.

With all these airport proposals, there is currently huge investment in the future of air travel for the UK. Airports are planning their future and see this as the future of travel for us, especially with it being more affordable than the train on occasion. The advance in investment in this area of travel is trending and definitely something to follow. Please contact me if you have any comments about the airport sector: caroline.lockyer@glenigan-old.thrv.uk

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