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5 October 2012, 11:32
A report's suggesting a new four-runway airport could be built at Luton to help make sure the UK compete with other European countries.
Think tank The Policy Exchange say the South East needs a four-runway airport, ideally to the west of Heathrow, but a new, bigger Luton Airport would be the next best option.
The report suggests building a new Luton Airport on land to the south and east of the current one, on the current Luton Hoo estate, even though that is Grade I listed.
The noise footprint for the new airport would stretch across much of Hertfordshire, from Berkhamsted in the west to Stevenage in the east.
The report says Luton is a good choice for a new large airport, because it is on the right side of London for most of the country and has good road and rail transport links nearby.
Plans to expand Luton Airport are already being considered.
The report was written by Tim Leunig, chief economist at the liberal think tank CentreForum.
He said today: "We can and should expand aviation capacity in south east England. Doing so will send a much needed signal to people that Britain is open for business.
"It is possible to expand Heathrow in such a way that it cements itself as Europe's number one hub, while significantly reducing the noise nuisance over west London. A four-runway airport would be straightforward to construct and relatively low cost by the standards of hub airports. It causes the lowest level of disruption to the wider economy of any likely airport expansion scenario.''
A DfT spokeswoman said: "The strength with which the different options are put forward shows precisely why we were right to set up a proper independent review with the timescale to consider fully what is in the country's interest.
"Maintaining the UK's status as a leading aviation hub is vital to our economy and history suggests that, without an agreed evidence base and a high degree of political consensus, it will not be possible to deliver a lasting solution that is right for the UK.''