Heathrow may have been selected as the preferred location for an additional runway to support the London market, but major doubts have remained if it will actually get final political approval for its construction. A change in Prime Minister could also bring further dark clouds with Boris Johnson, who fiercely stood against the new runway at Heathrow, expected to lead the country following the resignation of Theresa May.
Against this backdrop, Heathrow has this week unveiled its own preferred masterplan for expansion, which includes details of tough new measures to reduce emissions, a planned noise respite and proposed ban on scheduled night flights. These plans will now be open for a 12-week statutory consultation
The Airport Expansion Consultation will run until 13-Sep-2019 and gives the public the opportunity to provide feedback on Heathrow’s proposals for the future layout of the airport, including the new runway and other airport infrastructure such as terminals and road access. The public will also be able to have their say on plans to manage the environmental impacts of expansion, including a proposed Heathrow Ultra Low Emissions Zone, Heathrow Vehicle Access Charge and a proposed 6.5-hour ban on scheduled night flights.
The consultation reveals plans for the airport’s growth in phases – from runway opening in approximately 2026, to the end masterplan in approximately 2050. This incremental growth will mirror the forecast growth in passengers and help airport charges remain close to 2016 levels, delivering more affordable fares for passengers, according to the documentation.
The plans revealed in this consultation incorporate the extensive feedback gathered from the airport’s first public consultation on expansion, which took place from Jan-2018 to Mar-2018, and the Airspace and Future Operations Consultation held earlier this year from Jan-2019 to Mar-2019, as well as from engagement with local communities, local authorities, airlines, environmental stakeholders and other interested parties.
Responses to this consultation will inform Heathrow’s application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) – the planning consent required for the project – which is expected to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport next year. MPs previously voted in Jun-2018 to approve the Airports National Policy Statement, which provides policy support for Heathrow expansion, by 415 in favour to 119 against – a majority of 296 votes.
Heathrow officials know they will need to get public backing for the plans and Emma Gilthorpe, its executive director for expansion, is urging local people to participate in the consultation, especially to share fears of likely impacts on the environment and local communities, two areas likely to drive the largest opposition to the airport’s plans.
“Expansion must not come at any cost. That is why we have been working with partners at the airport, in local communities and in Government to ensure our plans show how we can grow sustainably and responsibly – with environmental considerations at the heart of expansion. This consultation is an opportunity for people to have their say on our preferred masterplan,” Ms Gilthorpe explains.