We need additional capacity': Airports chief Sir Howard Davies clears the fog (a little) over airport expansion for South East England

He confirmed to The Independent that it was possible he could propose both a second runway at Gatwick and a third runway at Heathrow

Travel Correspondent

On a day when a flutter of fog caused the cancellation of dozens of flights to and from Heathrow, the man charged with solving the airport capacity crunch in South East England revealed that he will recommend expansion - which could include two or more new runways.

Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, said: "Additional capacity will need to be provided," and confirmed that he would make a single recommendation. While he refused to be drawn on his likely conclusion, Sir Howard confirmed to The Independent that it was possible he could propose both a second runway at Gatwick and a third runway at Heathrow.

To manage the predicted growth of aviation with only the existing facilities would, he said, be bad for passengers, connectivity and the economy - and could also damage the environment more than increasing capacity would do.

As frustrated passengers to Italy, Germany and Spain considered their travel options at Heathrow, Sir Howard was giving his first speech to an audience of airport operators, airline executives and environmental campaigners in London. The purpose, he said, was "To give people a sense of our direction".

The Davies Commission plans to make recommendations in December on short-term options for easing capacity constraints, with a full report on long-term solutions due in two years - after the next election. It is considering, said Sir Howard, "Fifty-eight proposals ranging from runway extensions to green field or blue water sites". The "Heathwick" proposal for a high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow is not among them

Sir Howard ruled out the prospect of "mixed mode" at Heathrow as a short-term fix. This technique, whereby both runways are used simultaneously for take-offs and landings, raises capacity at the expense of significantly increased noise nuisance. It is likely to be used only to increase the resilience of Europe's busiest airport during events such as weather disruption.

Instead, the Davies Commission will make interim recommendations on improving surface access to secondary airports, involving better rail and road links: "A number of airports have proposed that there are ways in which you can make existing airports more appealing and provide some additional headroom".

Sir Howard said he was not feeling any political pressure: "So far all the party leaders have said roughly the same thing, paraphrased as 'Good luck I'm glad I'm not doing this - but we hope you produce a solution we can accept'. To their credit, none of them has tried to mark our card."

Sir Howard Davies's recommendations will be made in December Sir Howard Davies's recommendations will be made in December
Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Airport Operators' Association, said he was confident the next government would carry through the Davies Commission recommendation:

"It would be extraordinary if the very first thing that the new prime minister of the day does is have a huge decision to make about this and then flunks it. So I'm positive about the fact that there will be more capacity in the UK in the years ahead, and today is just one step along the way to getting there."

But John Stewart of the group opposed to Heathrow's expansion, HACAN Clearskies, said "Ed Miliband's opposition to a third runway [at Heathrow] is well known".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links