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Grayling reopens Heathrow consultation

Heathrow leaflets

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced an additional consultation period for the government’s draft Airports National Policy Statement (NPS).

The original consultation on the airport’s third runway plans finished at the end of May, but now Grayling says further work is needed to take into account revised aviation demand forecasts and the government’s final air quality plan. The announcement of the general election delayed the publication of these documents.

Grayling said: “It was intended these documents would be presented for consideration during the initial consultation, but the timing of the general election meant this was not possible.

“I am therefore confirming that there is a need to conduct a short period of further consultation to allow this updated evidence to be taken into account.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The consultation announced today is another delivery milestone which strengthens the policy framework for expanding Heathrow – it will not impact our timetable to open Britain’s new runway in 2025 and we look forward to Parliament showing its support for Heathrow expansion through a vote next year.”

The additional consultation period is, in part, a response to a report on the consultation which recommends time is taken to factor in the air quality plan and revised demand forecasts.

Sir Jeremy Sullivan published his interim report on the initial consultation yesterday. He was appointed to oversee the consultation process to ensure it was as open, fair and transparent as possible. Sir Jeremy will also oversee the next consultation period.

Overall the report says the consultation on the draft NPS was “well planned and, with one exception well executed.”

The exception was the government’s leaflet (pictured left) which didn’t include details of the location of consultation events. Sir Jeremy said that aspect fell short of the government’s best practice objective.

The report said: “There were numerous criticisms of the leaflet referred to in paragraphs 24 and 28. It was said that the leaflet was (a) mere “propaganda” on behalf of Heathrow – “the Heathrow flyer”; and (b) uninformative in that it gave the general locations, but not the addresses, of the 20 events, and did not include the times of opening. I have no doubt that the leaflet fell short of “best practice” in these two respects.

“It would have been much better if the leaflet had included the addresses of the 20 events, as was done in Annex D of the Consultation Document which did not give the full address, but did identify the building, for example Ealing Town Hall, in which the local event was to take place, and if it had also included the opening times. Correspondents rightly pointed out that there would have been sufficient space for this information if what they described as the pro-Heathrow “propaganda” had been omitted.”

He added: “In my view the headline points, as presented in the leaflet, did give the impression of a “hard sell” for Heathrow. It would have been much better if a more neutral leaflet had been distributed giving more information about the addresses of the local events.”

The Department for Transport is now going to include locations in consultation leaflets.

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