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Government warned of legal delays if it does not change Heathrow plans

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The committee of MPs responsible for scrutinising the policy which will give Heathrow Airport planning permission to build a third runway have warned key areas of concern need to be addressed to avoid it being delayed by legal disputes.

The Transport Select Committee has said that Parliament should only approve the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) once a list of actions have been taken to limit any negative impact on the environment, people and health from a number of issues, including air quality, surface access and costs.

The committee claims the government has a window to change the NPS now, before it goes to the Houses of Parliament for debate, so that safeguards from adverse impacts are in place.

Transport Committee chair Lilian Greenwood MP said: “The Committee’s recommendations improve the NPS and reduce the chance of a successful legal challenge.

“The Northwest Runway scheme, as set out in the draft NPS, is the highest cost expansion option and one of the largest privately financed infrastructure projects anywhere in the world. 

“At present, the draft NPS does not guarantee that passengers will be protected from the cost risks associated with the scheme. The Secretary of State must set out how airport charges will be held down.

“During our inquiry, we heard how communities might be affected. Thousands of people across London could be exposed to worse levels of noise, air quality and traffic congestion - there must be sufficient measures to protect or compensate them.

“The Government and Heathrow have made efforts to mitigate these significant impacts, but safeguards on air quality, surface access, connectivity, costs and charges and noise should be strengthened. As a matter of urgency, we also want to see how the Government plans to deliver the necessary airspace change.

“This must all be done before a final NPS is tabled for approval by both Houses of Parliament.”

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