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Heathrow expansion consultation launched

by Marco Cillario Fri 3 February 2017, 3:39 pm

A 16-week public consultation has been launched on plans to expand Heathrow airport.

Proposals to provide the airport with a third runway, which received the government’s support in October, were made public yesterday (2 February) in a draft airports national policy statement.

The document explains the government’s decision to favour the airport expansion scheme over other proposals – such as providing Gatwick with a second runway – and sets out the requirements for planning consent to be granted to implement it. 

As well as being available for review and comment online until 25 May, the document will be the subject of a series of consultation events in and outside London, including Hounslow Civic Centre on 27 February and Isleworth Public Hall on 15 March.

Consultations will not focus on the detailed design for the expansion scheme – as this will be part of the airport operator’s application for planning consent – but rather on the reasons for the expansion and the measures for the communities affected.

The statement requires that Heathrow meet certain conditions for its expansion, including six more domestic routes, noise mitigation measures, a ban of six-and-a-half hours on night flights and actions to prevent road traffic in the area from increasing.

The airport will also have to pay 125% of their property value to around 900 homeowners whose properties will be demolished as a result of the expansion, plus any other moving cost – a compensation Heathrow has already pledged. 

“By 2040 every London airport will be at capacity unless we take action,” said secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling MP, upon introducing the document.

He added that new long haul flights were needed “as we leave the European Union so that we can get out into the world and do business with old allies and new partners alike”.

He went on to make the case for Heathrow to be expanded rather than Gatwick, saying the airport in west London was “uniquely well positioned”. 

“It will link to HS2 (at Old Oak Common) and Crossrail, and support new domestic air connections as well as safeguarding existing domestic routes. 

“Heathrow Airport has proposed a further six new routes to Belfast International, Durham Tees Valley, Humberside, Liverpool, Newquay and Prestwick to be added after expansion, ensuring we have an economy that works for everyone.”

Grayling claimed that the expansion would bring tens of thousands of additional local jobs by 2030 and “up to £61 billion of benefits to all passengers and the wider economy”. 

However, the government’s decision has faced protests and challenges since it was announced last autumn. 

It prompted the resignation of Zac Goldsmith as Conservative MP for Richmond Park, triggering a by-election won by Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney, also opposed to the expansion. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that the new Heathrow runway would be “devastating" for air quality and noise pollution across the capital.

“Air pollution around the airport is already above legal levels of NO2. Heathrow already exposes more people to aircraft noise than Paris CDG, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Madrid combined. A third runway would mean an extra 200,000 people impacted, exposing 124 more schools and 43,200 more schoolchildren to an unacceptable level of noise,” Khan explained.

But unions supported the government’s decision and the publication of the statement yesterday. 

Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey said it was “excellent news” and the union looked forward to “the delivery of the project and the creation of the jobs that will result”.

TUC deputy general secretary Paul Nowak said it was “heartening” to see Heathrow expansion moving forward. “Serious infrastructure projects like this are vital to strengthening our economy, securing investment and delivering on quality jobs,” he added.

Hounslow Council raised concerns over the announcement and called on residents and local businesses to take part in the consultations and make their voice heard.

Councillor Steve Curran, leader of the council, said the position of the council “remains, as it has always been, that we’d like to see a better not bigger airport”, adding that the council’s main concerns were noise, pollution and additional congestion.

"The Department for Transport’s launch today of its consultation on a new north-west 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.”

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