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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 12:42 GMT
Heathrow terminal splits opinion
Heathrow
'Priorities should lie elsewhere' Friends of the Earth

It has taken many years to build, but Heathrow's Terminal 5 building is finally opening for business.

Hailed as an essential for the modernisation of Heathrow by supporters, condemned by environmental groups who claim it will increase noise, flights and pollution, the new 4.3bn terminal is at the centre of controversy.

Key observers give their reaction:

BAA CHAIRMAN SIR NIGEL RUDD

Terminal Five marks the start of a new beginning for Heathrow, for BAA and for our millions of passengers.

It is by any standard a triumph of ambition, commitment and collaboration.

It will breathe new life into Heathrow, allowing us to continue our transformation of the rest of the airport and will put Heathrow and BAA back where they belong - at the leading edge of global travel.

BA CHIEF EXECUTIVE WILLIE WALSH

Terminal Five is a fantastic facility and our customers will really enjoy the space, comfort and convenience it offers.

With the opening of T5, BA and BAA have an opportunity to make air travel, both into and out of the UK, once again a calmer and much more enjoyable experience.

PAUL CHARLES, DIRECTOR, VIRGIN ATLANTIC

This is a great new building, there's no doubt about it, and it may be a wonderful new piece of infrastructure and architecture, but it doesn't do anything for most of the airlines that operate at Heathrow.

This is a gift for BA - they've been gifted terminals before, such as Gatwick North and Terminal 4; here they are getting Terminal 5, and fundamentally it's a great place to shop, but it may not be a great place to travel from.

JOHN LAMB, BIRMINGHAM CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

The great need now is for the regional airports to take more of the capacity.

Heathrow and London and the south-east generally is overheating, so Birmingham can take this capacity once the runway is extended.

Government funding is being provided, and planning permission is being sought, but until that happens, business people from here are still going to have to flog down through London to Heathrow to get to the longer-haul destinations.

RICHARD LAMBERT, CBI DIRECTOR GENERAL

What we need is a sort of modern airport the nation's capital can feel proud of - and it is the busiest international airport in Europe by far, and it's the second biggest cargo airport in the world.

So it's a very, very important part of the national infrastructure, it's not either-or; we couldn't let this gateway to the nation kind of fade into a crumbled mess.

TONY JUNIPER, DIRECTOR, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH

There's a big downside to aviation called climate change - and governments need to intervene with different signals to help us see that, at the same time as providing convenient and attractive alternatives.

And we can do it. High-speed rail is the way forward and I think it's really quite ironic when we're expanding Heathrow, the most popular destination out of this airport is to Paris.

And from St Pancras we have got a link there now that could replace that need to fly completely. And that's where government needs to be putting its incentives."

ANITA GOLDSMITH, TRANSPORT CAMPAIGNER, GREEENPEACE

Terminal 5 stands as a monument to the binge-flying culture this Government has done so much to encourage.

It's part of an obsession with expansion which can only mean more flights, more emissions and more climate change.

If we build the new terminals and runways the Government is pushing for we won't stand a chance of meeting our climate change targets.

IAN GODDEN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, SOCIETY OF BRITISH AEROSPACE COMPANIES

The aviation industry is working hard to reduce its environmental impact.

The reduction in noise nuisance by 75% over the past 30 years demonstrates the industry's commitment to making aviation sustainable both environmentally and economically.

Under the industry's Sustainable Aviation strategy, aviation aims to cut noise and CO2 emissions by a further 50% of 2000 levels by 2020.

The arguments made against Heathrow expansion fail to recognise the economic benefits of the airport and the voluntary steps being taken by the industry.

Stunts by fringe environmental groups, such as we have seen recently, only detract from the fact that aviation is responsible for 1.7% of total global CO2 emission.

NEIL PAKEY, CHAIRMAN, AIRPORT OPERATORS ASSOCIATION

It is in the interests of passengers, businesses and the country as a whole that the UK has world-class airports.

The opening of Terminal 5 represents a huge stride forward in providing the airport facilities which passengers deserve.

Thriving, growing airports are vital to help maintain Britain's economic competitiveness.

Domestic air links to Heathrow are particularly valuable for the regional economies, and this new terminal will undoubtedly provide them with a much-needed boost.

The passage of the current Planning Bill must ensure that this is the last airport which has to endure such an absurdly protracted planning process.

It is imperative that the planning system is responsive to the needs of the UK economy, particularly when deciding on airport expansion.

JAMES BIDWELL, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, VISIT LONDON

T5 will provide visitors to London and the UK with a spectacular first impression and alleviate the pressure experienced at Heathrow, the world's busiest airport.

The terminal's smoother check-in process and state-of-the-art baggage management system will certainly better the tourist experience and should help improve the airport's international reputation.



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