By Jonathan Davies

The Airports Commission has backed plans for a third runway at Heathrow over a second runway at Gatwick.

The report claims a third runway at Heathrow will boost the UK economy by £147 billion, add 40 new destinations and create 70,000 jobs by 2050.

"The best answer is to expand Heathrow's capacity through a new north-west runway," said the report's author, Sir Howard Davies.

"Heathrow is best placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets.

"It provides the greatest benefits for business passengers and the broader economy.

"Adding capacity at Heathrow also provides an opportunity to change the airport's relationship with its local communities.

"To make expansion possible the Commission recommends a comprehensive package of measures including a ban on night flights and a new noise levy to fund a far stronger and more generous set of compensation and mitigation schemes."

It beat plans for a second runway at Gatwick and an extension of the northern Heathrow runway.

Sir Howard said certain restrictions should be put in place to reduce environmental and noise disruption effects.

Sir Howard called for no night time flights and for the government to make a Parliamentary pledge not to build a fourth runway.

Many residents in the surrounding areas complained that they already suffer enough through noise disruption, claiming any expansion of Heathrow would increase it.

The government says it will not make a "snap judgement" and will digest the report fully.

"Heathrow offers the kind of long-haul connectivity - flights to emerging markets which are very important to the future of the British economy - and expanding it would allow Heathrow to offer more of those flights," Sir Howard told the BBC.

Sir Howard said the proposed second runway at Gatwick was a "credible" option, but had smaller capacity for long-haul flights, meaning the economic benefit would be less.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate claimed the airport was "very much still in the race".

"The Commission's report makes clear that expansion at Gatwick is deliverable," he added.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “Now that Sir Howard’s Commission has made its recommendation, the Government must commit to the decision now, and get diggers in the ground at Heathrow swiftly by 2020.

“Growing airport capacity in the South East is absolutely critical to the whole of the UK’s economic future - it simply isn’t an optional “nice to do”. Each day the Government delays taking the decision, the UK loses out as our competitors reap the rewards and strengthen their trade links.


The new runway at Heathrow is estimated to cost around £17.6bn, partly because of the new to demolish 800 homes. Road and rail links in the area would also have to undergo a dramatic change, contributing £5bn to the overall cost.

Gatwick's second runway would have cost an estimated £7bn.

The Airports Commission believes that both options would be funded by private finance.

The government is likely to give its official response to the report in autumn.