Heathrow has said it will meet and, in most cases, exceed the conditions set out in the Airports Commission’s recommendation for Heathrow expansion.
In July last year, the independent Airports Commission recommended expanding Heathrow, after a three year, £20 million study into the best option for solving the UK’s aviation capacity crisis.
Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye has written to the Prime Minister setting out what the Airport describe as “a world leading, ambitious and affordable plan which balances the huge national and local economic gain from expansion with the environmental impacts”.
The letter says: “You set up the Airports Commission and it unanimously recommended expanding Heathrow. You demanded ambitious plans from my team to deliver expansion with a bold and fair deal for our neighbours.
“Today, I am proud to submit a comprehensive plan that meets and exceeds your demands. This is a big commitment from us, but it is the right choice for the country, local communities and jobs across Britain.
“We have acted now to let you and your government make the right choice, in the long term interest of our country. It will enable you to choose Heathrow and secure a stronger economy and Britain’s place in the world.
“Expanding Heathrow can help Britain win thousands more jobs and ensure that future generations have the same economic opportunity that we have enjoyed.”
The Airport is keen to emphasise that it’s proposals to Government aim to exceed the limits and conditions laid down by the Davies Commission.
Heathrow has now said it will meet the Commission’s condition by agreeing to introduce a ban on scheduled flights for six and a half hours between 2300 and 0530 – an increase from five hours today – and, to exceed the Commission’s request, support the earlier introduction of the ban after planning consent is received and the necessary airspace has been modernised.
It is also proposing that the Environment Agency be given the role of an independent aviation air quality authority, to provide transparent scrutiny of the measures Heathrow will introduce to enable it to expand only in accordance with air quality rules.
And it will establish an Education and Skills Taskforce that will identify how best to develop the airport’s future skilled workforce and to create a legacy for UK infrastructure projects.
The Airport hopes that these measures will allow the Government to take a decision on where a new runway should be built. The next Government response is expected in July, after the EU Referendum. It is to be hoped that this is an actual decision, not further prevarication.
Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, said: “Heathrow has taken tough decisions and addressed the concerns of local residents with further restrictions on night flights and tighter control of emissions. This should remove the last rational objections to Heathrow expansion, which is essential if British businesses are to be properly connected with the emerging cities around the world.
“Heathrow has offered some significant commitments. Now Government needs to respond in kind by taking a decision before the summer ends.”
David Sleath, SEGRO Chief Executive, said: “As the leading industrial landlord at Heathrow, SEGRO owns and manages 60 million sq. ft. of industrial space – a large proportion located in West London and the Thames Valley. We have long championed the need for additional aviation capacity in the UK to ensure that Britain’s success in the global economy, and welcomed the Airports Commission recommendation to expand Heathrow. Our customers rely on strong international air connectivity and say expansion at Heathrow would benefit their businesses and the UK economy as a whole.”
“We understand that this cannot come at any cost and support Heathrow’s work to meet and exceed the conditions set out by the Airports Commission in order to enable Government to end indecision and get on and build the third runway.”
Gavin Hayes, Director of Let Britain Fly said: “The strong mitigation measures announced by Heathrow should be welcomed by all sides and should be a game-changer in the airport expansion debate, demonstrating that a new runway will not only deliver much-needed jobs and growth, but also ensure there is a new settlement for local communities that will make life better for people living near the airport.
“After years of dithering the ball is now firmly in the Government’s court to get on and make a final decision on airport expansion as swiftly as possible – with this package of measures now on the table it’s decision time – there can be no more excuses for delay.”
Heathrow’s promises in detail:
The letter is part of the Airport’s response to a number of conditions recommended by the Davies Commission, one of which was that, following construction of a third runway there should be a ban on all scheduled night flights in the period 11:30 pm to 6 am.
The Airport’s proposal would give the same amount of time for a night-time ban, but shifted by half an hour, to 11 pm to 5:30 am.
The Airport also say that they would support the earlier introduction of this extended ban on night flights by Government as soon as the necessary airspace has been modernised after planning consent for the third runway has been secured – so prior to the opening of the new runway.
The Airport say they will consult on and establish a clear and legally binding noise envelope for the third runway, and further that they will support the introduction of an independent noise authority, and a system for the independent regular review of the noise envelope framework and targets to incentivise a reduction in aircraft noise over time.
To meet the Commission’s condition that predictable respite should be more reliably maintained, Heathrow say they will do that, and publish timetable of respite for different areas under the flight path. Further they will ensure there will be some respite for everyone living under the final flight path by “using advances in navigational technology”.
Heathrow promise to meet the condition that they should compensate those who would lose their homes at full market value plus 25% and extend this offer to a further 3,750 properties close to the compulsory purchase zone.
Heathrow is promising to spend over £1bn on community compensation (noise and property) and support the introduction of a scheme to ensure that airport users pay to compensate local communities for the impacts of the airport.
They will bring this in earlier than the Commission required, from the day when planning consent is granted.
Community Engagement Board
The Airport is agreeing to establish an independent Community Engagement Board, under an independent Chair, which will have real influence over how Heathrow meets these conditions, and to do so earlier than requested by the Commission.
Independent aviation noise authority
They will back the creation of an independent aviation noise authority with statutory powers.
Provision of training opportunities and apprenticeships
The Airport is undertaling to provide training opportunities and apprenticeships (and jobs) in constructing and operating the new infrastructure.
Indeed they a promising that immediately following a Government decision to expand Heathrow, they would establish an Education and Skills Taskforce that will identify how best to develop the airport’s future skilled workforce and to create a legacy for UK infrastructure projects. They would double the number of apprenticeships at Heathrow to 10,000 by the time the runway is operational, and work with local councils and communities to ensure that as many as possible of the 40,000 new jobs at the airport go to those living nearby, aiming to end youth unemployment in those Boroughs closest to the airport.
Heathrow are committing to incentivise a major shift in mode share for those working at and arriving at the airport through measures including new rail investments and a continuing focus on employee behaviour change and including the consideration of a congestion or emissions charge.
They are also promising an increase in the number and frequency of trains, and other work on bus and coach services and local cycling with the aim that “there will be no more airport related traffic on the roads after the new runway opens than today”.
In response to the Commission’s request that new capacity should only become operational when air quality at sites around the airport will not delay compliance with EU limits, they agree that additional operations at an expanded Heathrow would be contingent on acceptable performance on air quality.
Further, they are committing to create an ultra-low emissions zone for airport vehicles by 2025, introducing an emissions charging scheme for all vehicles accessing the airport to encourage low-emission technology and fund sustainable transport.
In addition, they propose that the Environment Agency be given the role of an independent aviation air quality authority.
Davies said that there should be an explicit acceptance that there would be no fourth runway. Heathrow are accepting that there should be a Government commitment in Parliament not to expand the airport further.