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Election delays Heathrow expansion documents

Heathrow

The government has blamed the election for not publishing important documents during its Heathrow expansion consultation, just days after being accused of poor surface access planning.

The Department for Transport (DfT) was due to set out how updated passenger demand forecasts would affect the case for expansion “as soon as possible” during the public consultation period, ending 25 May. But it will now not release the updated forecasts until after June 8, citing pre-election rules.

The announcement comes days after London Assembly Transport Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon submitted a damning letter to transport secretary Chris Grayling as part of the consultation, criticising the DfT for poor transport planning.

“We are seriously concerned about the lack of planning for improving surface access to Heathrow Airport,” says the letter. Pidgeon added the government had given “little if any commitment” to transport upgrades, and that its approach could risk overcrowding on London’s transport network.

“Before Parliament makes its final decision on the expansion of Heathrow it is imperative that decisions are made on precisely what surface access is required, how much it would cost and who would be expected to pay for it,” states the letter.

Heathrow has stressed it will contribute towards public transport projects needed for expansion, which could cost up to £15bn.

“Where there are associated projects to upgrade public transport local to Heathrow that will benefit both airport and non-airport users, we will pay our fair share towards costs,” said a spokesperson for Heathrow.

It also denied claims there is “no detailed planning” for mitigating freight traffic, which by its own estimates could increase 30% by 2030 without intervention.

“As part of the DCO [development consent order] process on Heathrow expansion, we will consult on proposals that aim to keep the number of freight vehicles travelling to and from the airport remains at similar levels to today,” said the spokesperson.

New Civil Engineer has contacted the DfT for comment.

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