Next U.K. Government Must Sanction Two More Runways, IoD Says

(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s next government should appoint a commission tasked with choosing the locations for two new runways serving southeast England, the Institute of Directors said.

With London Heathrow airport’s third landing strip not due to be completed until 2028 and Gatwick, south of the capital, filling up fast, the commission should be given only a year to determine the best sites, according to a statement from the lobby group, which represents 30,000 company directors.

Heathrow posted the fastest traffic growth in more than a decade in the first quarter, taking it even closer to the maximum capacity of its existing facilities. Europe’s busiest hub crammed in almost 76 million passengers last year as airlines switched to bigger planes to accommodate more people per flight. Gatwick meanwhile ranks as the world’s busiest single-runway airport.

“The years of dawdling on new airport capacity have left us lagging well behind European competitors,” Dan Lewis, the IoD’s infrastructure adviser, said in the release. “Expanding Heathrow is not enough. We need two further runways at southeast airports and better connections to the ones where there is spare capacity, particularly Stansted.”

Heathrow’s new runway, the first full-length strip in southeast England since World War II, is only going ahead now after the government handed the decision to an independent commission, and that should be the model for other infrastructure decisions, the IoD said.

The IoD also called for more detailed plans for the Crossrail 2 project in London and the HS3 proposal to enhance train speeds between cities in northern England, together with an acceleration of ultra-fast broadband and 4G coverage, with the old copper network to be completely replaced by 2025.

Roads should also be ranked in terms of traffic, costs and pollution, and speed targets introduced for buses, it said.