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Davies Commission releases details of airport plan submissions

The Airports Commission earlier this month formally set out how it plans to decide on the best option for increasing UK airport capacity.

The government set up the independent commission, chaired by former Financial Services Authority chairman Sir Howard Davies, last year to identify the best options for increasing UK airport capacity and maintaining the UK’s global hub status.

It is due to make its recommendations back to government in 2015, but will publish an interim report at the end of this year
that will identify what it calls “a list of credible options” to improve capacity over the long term.

“If the commission reaches a view in its interim report that a significant increase in aviation capacity is needed, the second phase of our work will develop the list of credible long term options into detailed schemes, and subject them to a thorough appraisal process,” said a ­commission spokesman.

“This is likely to include looking not only at individual proposals in isolation, but also at how they might be combined.”

The commission has received 51 proposals for long-term ­solutions from a range of organisations and individuals.

These include various options for a new Thames Estuary airport, as well as expansion at Heathrow.

In phase two the schemes will have to be worked up in more detail, and a detailed business case and sustainability assessment must be produced for each one.

Earlier this year the commission published the “sift criteria” by which the submissions will be judged to decide if they should be carried through to the second stage.

The criteria include economic, social, environmental and operational issues, as well as the potential effects of the proposals at local, regional, national and global levels.

The commission says it plans to work collaboratively “where possible” with the credible schemes’ sponsors to prepare business cases and sustainability assessments, and run a national consultation towards the end of 2014.

It will produce its final report in 2015, when it will recommend which (if any) of the schemes should be taken forward, and the best way to accelerate them through planning.

The commission also published the list of proposals it has received for improving existing airport capacity in the short and medium term - more than 70 submissions were received from organisations and individuals, including UK airport operators, local authorities, and business and transport lobby groups.

It will make recommendations by the end of this year on immediate actions that should be taken to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the short and medium term.

Long term options

Among the 51 long term options submitted to the airports commission are:

  • Proposals to turn Stansted airport into a hub, from the mayor of London, Make architects and Manchester Airport Group
  • Heathrow Airport’s plan to add extra runway capacity
  • A hub at Heathrow linked to the high speed rail network
  • Options for an airport in the Thames Estuary, including schemes by Beckett Rankine, Foster + Partners, Grimshaw and the mayor of London.
  • Two schemes to build an airport in the Severn Estuary
  • A new airport in Oxfordshire
  • Three options for expanding existing small airfields in Kent
  • Expansion at Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester


Short term options

Short term options include:

  • Changes to the operation of individual airports and/or UK airport operation in general
  • Managing UK airspace more efficiently
  • Changing the way slots are allocated
  • Promoting international agreements to encourage new routes
  • Improving surface access to individual airports and/or changing the operation of existing surface transport infrastructure to support aviation
  • Changes to night flights regimes

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