Airport users have reacted angrily to the prospect of a £15 congestion charge for motorists at Heathrow.
Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, had speculated that the idea of a charge for driving to Heathrow would not only be political acceptable — it would also be “popular”.
Expansion at Britain’s busiest airport is contingent upon air quality limits. Private cars are significant contributors to pollution at Heathrow. Sir Howard told the Evening Standard: “The idea that you should have to pay £10 or £15 if you really want to drive to the airport and maybe you pay more if you are in a diesel car — I think that is a perfectly politically acceptable thing. Indeed I think it would be popular.”
But a Twitter poll conducted over the weekend, with 1,072 responses, roundly rejected the idea by almost eight to one. Of those who expressed a preference, 88 per cent disagreed with the proposal, with only 12 per cent in favour.
The option “don’t know/care” was chosen by 22 per cent.
Many respondents were strident in their opposition.
Irene Rodriguez tweeted: “Really? With no train station on a mainline? Extortionate & highly inconvenient to get to, so car is the cheapest & quickest way?”
“Surely the story is more: ‘Airports czar comes up with new idea to rip off travellers’?”, suggested Jon W.
And “Bemused Backpacker” wrote: “As popular as rip off parking fees and price hikes on everything else you mean? Yeah everyone will love it!”
Starting next year, Londoners will see more trains on the railway to Heathrow, with the Elizabeth Line — the Crossrail project — opening. But Edwin Marr gave a view from outside the capital: “Fine if you live in London. I live in Suffolk.” He said the public transport journey involves 40 minutes to Cambridge, 50 mins to London King’s Cross, 20 minutes to Paddington then a further 20 minutes to Heathrow.
“They need to pay for third runway somehow,” wrote someone with the Twitter handle Jock McTavish. “Might as well start milking the public before work starts in 2039 ha.”
Rare support came from Colin, who said: “If it tackles the problem I am all for it especially as the transport links to Heathrow are getting better, making it easier to commute.”
The new Government has emphasised its support for a third runway at Heathrow. It is over two years after Sir Howard Davies’ commission unanimously recommended expansion at the airport, but work has yet to begin.
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