Heathrow, Stanstead, Estuary? Today, Sir Terry Farrell reveals his preferred airport option

With the debate over airport expansion in the South-east threatening to tear apart not just the coalition, but the Conservative Party as well, four leading thinkers make the case for their preferred option.

Today, Sir Terry Farrell of Terry Farrell and Partners shares his view - look out for Huw Thomas, partner at Foster + Partners, explaining which option he’s routing for tomorrow. Friday’s full feature in print, online and on our tablet app will reveal our last two leading thinkers rounding off the debate



We believe that, before any choice is made between a third runway or a new estuary airport or any other “big project” silver-bullet solution, another question needs to be answered by a proper study. We owe it the UK as a whole to do this crucial piece of work first.

For us, the key question - given that the arrival of Crossrail and potentially HS2 will mean seven runways all within one hour and most within half
an hour of London - is, what is the most capacity available with the existing provision? This may not involve more runways but would rely on increased connectivity through airside links, with new and improved rail and road connections creating a networked aviation solution.

Sequential and incremental steps toward this could include much better surface links to Stansted, and/or airside 15-minute links between Heathrow and Gatwick and Heathrow and Luton, possibly enabling a “linked hub airport”’ - all smart and appropriate solutions to our aviation needs.

Such solutions could be provided incrementally, responding to demand, rather than being a big-bang project that will take many years to deliver. They would also be affordable and low risk, rather than a huge initial investment and very high risk, and provide an optimum performance level in terms of capacity and connections. Such proposals would be a big-picture sustainable and appropriate solution, consolidating and growing existing employment and infrastructure in the heart of the UK.

London, a world region and metropolis, needs a networked strategy - it’s too big for one answer. Don’t over-simplify. Let us look at all of the options, and whether we can use existing and proposed transport infrastructure to incrementally form a networked answer to the call for airport capacity.

What do you think about airport expansion in the UK? Let us know your views by posting a message in the box below.