Heathrow’s expansion programme has passed its first delivery milestone and, sat the Airport, is advancing on schedule as the Government publishes its draft Airports National Policy Statement.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has published proposals for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. The Government says it is a “huge step in preparing for leaving the EU”, and it can be no coincidence that it is published the day after MPs voted for triggering Article 50.
A national public consultation has begun, into one of the UK’s most important infrastructure projects which, hopes the Government, will help build a global Britain and mitigate against any potential economic damage from leaving the EU.
The Government says that delivery of the new third runway “will ensure Britain seizes the opportunity to forge a new role in the world after Brexit, supported by the right infrastructure”.
On 25 October 2016, the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, confirmed that the government’s preferred scheme for adding new runway capacity in the south-east is through a new north-west runway at Heathrow Airport, in line with the recommendation made by the independent Airports Commission, and that the policy for this would be brought forward by way of a draft national policy statement (NPS) which would be subject to public consultation.
The government’s draft NPS, “Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the south-east of England“, lays down the planning policy framework which the applicant for a new north-west runway would have to comply with in order to get development consent. It also sets out the need for additional airport capacity in the south-east and the reasons why a north-west runway at Heathrow is the government’s preferred scheme.
An NPS, say the Government, is the best way to do this as it provides clarity, is speedier and less costly to the taxpayer.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Aviation expansion is important for the UK both in boosting our economy and jobs and promoting us on the world stage.
“Leaving the EU is a new chapter for Britain and provides us with a great opportunity to forge a new role in the world. We are determined to seize that opportunity and having the right infrastructure in place will allow us to build a more global Britain. By backing the north-west runway at Heathrow airport and publishing our proposals, we are sending a clear signal that when we leave the EU, we are open for business.
“The national policy statement is a big step forward for what is one of the UK’s most important, major infrastructure projects. Now we want to hear your views on it. This is an important consultation and I encourage everybody to get involved across the country.”
The draft NPS is now open to a 16-week public consultation. The Secretary of State for Transport will use the finalised NPS as the basis for making decisions on any future development consent application for a new north-west runway at Heathrow Airport.
At the same time, and as required by the Planning Act 2008, a period of Parliamentary scrutiny will begin for the draft NPS, ending in 2017. Following consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny, a final airports NPS is expected to be laid before Parliament for debate and vote in winter 2017-18.
The draft NPS sets out the measures with which Heathrow Airport will have to comply in order to get development consent. These include:
- demonstrating it has worked constructively with airlines on domestic connectivity – the government expects Heathrow to add 6 more domestic routes across the UK by 2030; Belfast International, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees Valley, bringing the total to 14
- providing a world-class package of support for communities affected by expansion including noise insulation for homes and schools and improvements to public facilities
- putting in place measures to mitigate the impacts of noise including legally binding noise targets, periods of predictable respite and a ban of 6 and a half hours on scheduled night flights
- implementing measures to deliver on its commitments of no increase in airport related road traffic and more than half of passengers using public transport to access the airport
- honouring its commitment of paying home owners 25% above market value rate plus costs for the compulsory purchase of their homes if needed to make way for the new runway
The Government says that the new runway would bring a £61 billion boost to the UK economy, tens of thousands of additional local jobs, and reduced fares, fewer delays and more daily destinations for passengers.
Heathrow is already the UK’s biggest freight port by value and a new runway would provide a post-Brexit boost for exports. Heathrow’s expansion will open up new links between the UK and markets around the world.
The Government is at pains to point out that planning consent will only be granted if the new runway can be delivered within existing air quality limits and climate change obligations.
The government has appointed Sir Jeremy Sullivan, the former Lord Justice of Appeal, to independently oversee the consultation process and ensure it is run fairly.
Alongside the draft NPS, the government has also published today separate proposals to modernise the way UK airspace is managed. This consultation; UK airspace policy: a framework for balanced decisions on the design and use of airspace is seeking views on how aircraft noise is managed effectively while updating airspace policies. Proposals will look at how the number of aircraft entering and leaving our airspace can be managed effectively – using the latest technology to make airspace more efficient, reducing the need for stacking and making journeys faster and more environmentally friendly. They will also include draft guidance on how noise impacts should be assessed and used to inform decisions on airspace.
The consultation also includes proposals on the role of an Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, which Government intends to establish.
At the same time the government has granted planning permission for works at Heathrow Airport which, when complete, will enable full use of both runways subsequent to the government’s earlier decision to end the ‘Cranford agreement’. These works will result in what the Government describes as a fairer distribution of aircraft noise in built-up areas close to Heathrow Airport. They do not allow for any increase in the number of permitted movements from the airport.
An overwhelming 74% of MPs back a third runway at Heathrow, a record level of political support for the project and recognition, say the Airport, of Heathrow’s unique role in driving economic growth and creating jobs across Britain as the nation’s only hub airport.
Heathrow Executive Director for Expansion Emma Gilthorpe said: “The launch of the Government’s national policy statement consultation is an important milestone in the delivery of Heathrow’s expansion plans. We look forward to working with the Government, our local communities and our airlines throughout this consultation period to ensure Heathrow expansion is affordable and benefits all of Britain.”
MP for Ealing Southall Virendra Sharma said: “It is encouraging to see that the Government is moving swiftly. The need for additional airport capacity has become even more critical following the decision to leave the European Union. Heathrow expansion will provide unrivalled connectivity to new and emerging markets, boosting international trade and cementing London’s role as a true outward-looking global city.
“Heathrow’s new plan for expansion can be delivered responsibly with clear safeguards in place, it has the potential to eradicate local youth unemployment, it will deliver the skills required to build and operate the expanded airport, and it is one that I along with a majority of constituents support.”
Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council said: “Our position on Heathrow Airport remains, as it has always been, that we’d like to see a better not bigger airport. The government’s recommended expansion at Heathrow will have a huge impact on the residents and businesses of Hounslow, with noise, pollution and additional congestion our main concerns.
“The Department of Transport’s launch today of its consultation on a new northwest runway is an important step towards a final decision and I strongly urge all Hounslow residents and businesses to take part and make sure they have their say.”
Later this summer and in addition to the Government’s NPS consultation, Heathrow will launch its own Phase 1 consultation to gather feedback from stakeholders on options for the Northwest Runway Scheme. This will be followed by a Phase 2 consultation in the summer of 2018. A final proposal is expected to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate as part of an application for a Development Consent Order in the summer of 2019.