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Election 'good' for Heathrow planning chances


The upcoming general election is a ”great opportunity” for Heathrow because a large Conservative majority will make it easier to secure consent for a third runway, according to a top Heathrow official.

Heathrow Airport expansion programme director Phil Wilbraham told New Civil Engineer that a Conservative government with a large majority would remove uncertainty around planning permission, which would be granted during the next government’s five-year term.

“The angst of a change of government just when we are about to get permission is taken out of this. There’s every likelihood we will get permission in the period of the next government,” he said.

He stressed it would not affect Heathrow’s push for expansion.

“It’s the same story for us in a different political environment and we will work with Labour [if it wins] to ensure expansion can happen.”

But Wilbraham admitted more needs to be done to mitigate increases in freight traffic as a result of new retail spaces at an expanded airport. Keeping landside traffic at today’s levels is a key condition for expansion set out in the government’s draft Airports National Policy Statement.

“We absolutely want more freight to go through Heathrow – it’s a port, after all – but there are also ways that freight can be consolidated before it comes to Heathrow,” he said.

“So there’s work to do with the freight companies etcetera to ensure that the freight is brought to Heathrow in the most sustainable way it possibly can, and we will get into that work.”

Heathrow has launched its search for four logistics hubs across the UK to carry out offsite construction during expansion. It hopes the move will benefit regional SMEs and boost the construction industry outside London.

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