The Airports Commission has claimed, and the media has uncritically repeated, that a new runway at Heathrow would deliver ‘up to £147 billion’ benefit for the UK. But this figure is based on analysis that takes no account of the environmental or surface access costs of expansion. Indeed, the Commission’s own specialist economic advisers have criticised the analysis for double counting and questionable assumptions in relation to the indirect benefits associated with increased seat capacity.
The results generated by using the Government’s methodology for cost benefit analysis meanwhile, are dramatically different: the Commission’s own figures, based on this methodology, suggest that building a third runway at Heathrow would result in a net £9 billion loss to the UK once all environmental and surface access costs are included. With some ‘wider economic benefits’ included, the benefit over sixty years would still be only £1.4 billion, as quoted in the Commission’s final report.
In our briefing on the economic impacts of airport expansion, available to download below, we look at how the Commission has presented its analysis of the costs and benefits of a new runway.
We have also published our assessment of whether the Airports Commission addressed our earlier concerns regarding a ‘carbon gap’ in the Commission’s analysis.
Download our briefings:
Image credit: Camilo Rueda López via Flickr