Heathrow R3 consultation launched

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has set out the next stage of delivering a third runway at Heathrow Airport, launching a consultation on the revised draft Airports National Policy Statement and government response to the airspace consultation

The government says it is on track to publish final proposals for expansion at Heathrow in the first half of 2018 for a vote in Parliament.

This round of consultation runs until 19 December 2017, and concerns new evidence in the revised draft Airports National Policy Statement, including long term aviation forecasts and the new government National air quality plan.

Once MPs approve the final document, it will set the planning policy framework which the airport needs in order to bring forward a planning application for the new north-west runway.

The Government believes an expanded Heathrow Airport would be more accessible to the rest of the country thanks to HS2, Crossrail and at least 6 more domestic flight routes. It thinks that a new Heathrow runway would deliver a £74 billion benefit to passengers and the wider UK economy over 60 years; tens of thousands of additional West London jobs by 2030; an additional 260,000 flights a year, with an extra 16 million long haul seats for passengers travelling from UK airports in 2040; and reduced fares, fewer delays and more daily destinations for passengers.

The report concludes that all three schemes are finaceable, and do not require public money, and that they are all deliverable within UK climate change commitments. These matters did not therefore play a part in the Government choice of a preferred scheme.

It concludes that cumulative economic benefits delivered by the Heathrow Northwest Runway scheme remain highest throughout most of the appraisal period, until the mid-2070s, although it notes that total benefits are slightly lower than would be delivered by Gatwick expansion over the full 60 year assessment.

The Northwest Runway scheme is expected to generate up to 114,000 additional jobs in
the local area by 2030.

The key reasons for the Government commitment to Heathrow are strategic, namely that expansion at Gatwick Airport would not enhance, and would consequently threaten,
the UK’s global aviation hub status. The extent of the pent up demand at Heathrow Airport means that the economic benefits would be experienced more rapidly once the new capacity is operational, and that both Heathrow schemes (also including the extended northern runway scheme) providing more passenger benefits by 2050 than the Gatwick Second Runway scheme.

Expansion at Heathrow would also add more domestic connectivity and significantly more long haul flights, and what the report describes as “a wide set of non-monetised benefits such as local job creation, trade, and freight benefits”, which indicate a stronger case for a Heathrow scheme than for the Gatwick Second Runway scheme.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Airport expansion is one of the most important type of infrastructure project 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.

“The case for expanding Heathrow is as strong as ever.”

The Transport Secretary confirmed that the government’s preferred scheme for adding new runway capacity in the south-east was through a new north-west runway at Heathrow Airport.

He also launched the Independent Commission for Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) to give communities confidence that any proposed airspace changes appropriately consider the impact of aviation noise.

The measures will also enable greater use of new technology to manage airspace more effectively – helping tackle delays, cut emissions and reduce the need for stacking.

Responding to the Government’s announcement on the next steps for delivering a third runway at Heathrow, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “The consultation launched today is a key milestone in developing the Airports NPS which will strengthen the policy framework for expanding Heathrow. The forecasts show expanding Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport, is even more important than previously realised. A third runway will ensure Britain’s place in the world as an outward looking trading nation. That’s why the Government has committed to a final vote on expansion in the first half of 2018.

“We remain on track to build an expanded Heathrow and deliver a once-in-a-generation boost for the economy in a way that is affordable, financeable and deliverable. We have already pledged to meet or exceed the conditions recommended by the Airports Commission to address impacts on local communities and the environment. Expansion will support our plan to make Heathrow a great place to live and work, doubling the number of apprenticeships at Heathrow to 10,000, with fewer people impacted by noise than today, and an ambition for carbon-neutral growth.

“Today’s consultation will be welcomed by business groups, trade unions and the majority of MPs who all recognise that expanding Heathrow is the only option to connect all of Britain to global growth.”

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. The Council wants to ensure that issues of noise, pollution and additional congestion are properly addressed.

“This Department of Transport consultation is an important step towards a final decision.”

Virendra Sharma, MP for Ealing Southall, who voted against Heathrow expansion in 2009, has changed his mind since, he said: “We cannot miss the opportunity to expand Heathrow – Britain’s hub airport is an engine for growth and if London is to thrive we must grasp the opportunity and expand it responsibly.

“I resigned as parliamentary private secretary to the minister of state at the Home Office and Treasury in 2009 over government proposals for expansion at Heathrow. The plan was unsympathetic to local residents.

“Since 2009, I have worked closely with Heathrow to explain what has worried us, and what we deserve to get from a world-leading hub airport. For me, it meant the environment, living standards and opportunities for young people. And in the eight years since I voted against expansion, Heathrow has listened and responded positively to our suggestions.

“Expansion won’t just continue to provide the jobs that we currently have, but it guarantees up to 40,000 new jobs and £35bn of economic growth in London alone. Heathrow will also double the number of apprentices from 5,000 to 10,000. That could mean the almost total eradication of youth unemployment across communities next to the airport and thousands of newly-skilled young people throughout the capital.”

“The newest plans from Heathrow are a significantly enhanced offer for international trade, with twice as much freight capacity, allowing exporters in my constituency to take advantage of the airport on their doorstep. And with up to 40 new long-haul destinations, as well as up to 16 domestic routes, it will keep London in its rightful place as a world city at the centre of global commerce, where it has been for centuries.”

Hammersmith & Fulham Council remain oppsed. “We remain firmly opposed to plans for a third runway at Heathrow,” said Cllr Wesley Harcourt, H&F Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Residents’ Services.

“Our resident-led Commission on Aircraft Expansion investigated the third runway proposals and concluded, in its 2015 report, that they would have harmful effects on local noise and air quality and increase local congestion.”

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