Heathrow Airport has launched what is set to be one of the largest public consultations in the country’s history.
Heathrow’s consultation is a major milestone in delivering an expanded airport – which would be Europe’s largest privately funded infrastructure project, and, say the Airport, the best way to keep the UK connected to global growth. For the next ten weeks, Heathrow will seek views on how to shape its plans so it can deliver what it describes as “the huge opportunities of expansion while keeping to the promises it has made to local communities and meeting strict environmental tests”.
Over the past year, Heathrow has been working alongside local stakeholders and airline partners to evolve the plans it submitted to the Airports Commission. This engagement has identified options to deliver an expanded hub airport for £2.5 billion less than previous plans – which the Airport says will help airport charges stay close to today’s levels. They say these options can be delivered without compromising on the expansion commitments Heathrow made to local communities – including a “world class” property compensation scheme, the pledge to introduce a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled night flights and the promise to only release new capacity if air quality limits can be met.
The consultation is in two parts – the first relates to the physical changes to the ground needed to build a new north-west runway and operate an expanded airport. There are three shortlisted options for the new north-west runway with length varying from between 3,200 and 3,500 metres; potential locations to expand terminal infrastructure east of Terminal 2, west of Terminal 5 or a new satellite terminal by the new runway; the proposed realignment of the M25 – repositioning it approximately 150 metres to the west, or lowering it by 7 metres in a tunnel and raising the runway height so it passes over the motorway; and options for changes to local roads and possible changes to two junctions leading to the M25.
The second part of the consultation relates to potential principles, or ‘rules’, that could apply when designing the new airspace required for an expanded airport. Airspace across the country is being modernised as it has changed little since the 1960s. Changes to airspace should ultimately improve resilience and punctuality for passengers while reducing noise, emissions and the number of late-running flights for local communities. At this early stage, future flight path options are not being consulted on.
The consultation is open until the 28th of March 2018. The airport’s proposals will then be subject to a second public consultation in 2019. Parliament is expected to vote on a National Policy Statement in the first half of 2018, which will set out the policy framework for Heathrow’s final planning submission.
Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s Executive Director Expansion, said: “When the government announced its support for Heathrow expansion it made a clear commitment to keeping Britain open for business. We want an expanded Heathrow to be the world’s best airport, ensuring that our country and its future generations have the infrastructure they need to thrive.
“We need feedback to help deliver this opportunity responsibly and to create a long-term legacy both at a local and national level. Heathrow is consulting to ensure that we deliver benefits for our passengers, businesses across the country but also, importantly, for those neighbours closest to us.”