Heathrow third runway

Progress Network anticipates the challenge of Heathrow’s third runway

With the Davies Commission’s recommendation now in, joint ACE Progress Network chairs Megan Radcliffe and Joseph Roberts have captured some thoughts from members, asking what the construction of the third runway at Heathrow could mean for young consultants. 

What challenges and what opportunities does the Airports Commission recommendation in favour of a Heathrow third runway option bring for young professionals?
Heathrow will bring a unique challenge for the best and the brightest to produce world class design to deliver the project in this tight urban space. Those involved in the construction will no doubt be valuable assets during the operational phase, producing a generation of “as-built” brains to serve Heathrow in the future or to act as global exports for other major infrastructure projects. 

As arguably the most climate aware generation this expansion brings major ethical concerns, with aviation looking likely to be one of the last sectors to displace fossil fuels. However, the shift in approach to deliver a sustainable airport is something that our network members felt they were well placed to provide. 

What, if anything, should our industry do to encourage further political and public support for an additional runway at Heathrow?

An encouraging aspect of the debate is that the UK’s ability to deliver such complex projects is no longer in question by either the Commission or the public. The confidence in the industry, thanks to projects such as the Olympics and Crossrail, is testament to the talents of built environment professionals. In order to advocate development of this kind, professionals will need to continue to champion the capabilities of the industry and prove that we can produce a sustainable development in this dense urban environment.

What impact will a third runway have on the next generation?

There is clearly excitement from the industry, which is keen to address the challenges and opportunities of providing tomorrow’s infrastructure. However, this view is cautioned by the need to make aviation more sustainable and its impact less contentious. Heathrow has the recommendation it wanted. We now wait to see whether the Government will endorse the recommendation or propose an alternative. If the recommendation is implemented Heathrow will need to rely on the full breadth and depth of the world’s professional services capability to deliver the project within the parameters set by the Commission.

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