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Terminal 5 is not a foregone conclusion

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Your news item 'Sky-high' (aj 4.3.99) regurgitates baa's 'prediction' that Terminal 5 'is due to open in 2006' without questioning its validity. It does not occur to you that baa's statement is nothing but a desperate attempt to present the construction of Terminal 5 as a foregone conclusion.

At the Terminal 4 Inquiry in 1979, the inspector recommended that T4 should be the last major expansion at Heathrow and a flight capping of 275,000 flights per annum was imposed. In spite of this capping, the number of flights per annum has risen to 460,000, with the skies over London at saturation point and the incidents of 'near misses' increasing. Yet baa is still flogging the 'dead horse' of Terminal 5.

T5 is designed to process 30 million passengers in addition to the 56 million currently handled by Heathrow. Yet the runways at Heathrow are at near capacity, night flights ruin the sleep of hundreds of thousands of residents, and the incessant scream of 1200 jets a day at low level over West London is an environmental nightmare. Richard Rogers and baa should not be surprised when the inspector recommends refusal of the T5 application.

The sycophantic adulation by most architectural journals of Richard Rogers' T5 is a poor substitute for serious thought about an alternative to the unacceptable expansion of Heathrow, such as an 'offshore' airport in the Thames Estuary capable of competing with the planned new Dutch 'offshore' airport on a North Sea island.

K A Wooldridge


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