The government has approved the building of a third runway at Heathrow Airport, following years of speculation on airport capacity in the UK.
It said that expanding Heathrow would better connect the UK to long haul destinations in growing world markets, boosting trade and creating jobs, adding that the expansion would be subject to a “world class” package of compensation and mitigation measures for local communities.
However, the final go-ahead is yet to be granted as the proposal will now be subject to a vote by Parliament which is not expected until late 2017 or early 2018. The proposal will be in the form of a draft National Policy Statement (NPS) for consultation.
The government said that a draft NPS setting out why it believes this scheme is right for the UK would be published in early 2017, when the public would be consulted on the proposals.
It added that a new runway at Heathrow would bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61bn, with up to 77,000 additional local jobs created over the next 14 years. The airport has also committed to create 5,000 new apprenticeships over the same period.
“The step that government is taking today is truly momentous. I am proud that after years of discussion and delay this government is taking decisive action to secure the UK’s place in the global aviation market,” said transport secretary Chris Grayling.
“This is an important issue for the whole country. That is why the government’s preferred scheme will be subject to full and fair public consultation. Of course, it is also hugely important for those living near the airport.
“That is why we have made clear that expansion will only be allowed to proceed on the basis of a world class package of compensation and mitigation worth up to £2.6bn, including community support, insulation, and respite from noise – balancing the benefits and the impacts of expansion.”
Heathrow already handles more freight by value than all other UK airports combined, accounting for 31% of the UK’s non-European Union trade. By expanding the airport, the government said it would create more opportunities for UK business to export their goods to new markets.
It went on to say that the cost of expanding the airport would be paid for by the private sector, not by the taxpayer. However, the project will also be independently regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on the detailed design and costs to ensure the scheme remains affordable.
The government said that it expected the industry to work together to drive down costs to benefit passengers with the aim to deliver a plan that will keep landing charges close to current levels.
Supporting UK connections
Heathrow has proposed a further six new routes to Belfast International, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees Valley to be added after expansion. Eight routes are currently in operation.
The government has proposed that a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights will be introduced for the first time at Heathrow and will make more stringent night noise restrictions a requirement of expansion.
The timing of this ban will be determined through consultation.
Furthermore, the government said that it had proposed new legally binding noise targets, encouraging the use of quieter planes, and a more reliable and predictable timetable of respite for those living under the final flight path. It said that the airport had also pledged to provide over £700M for noise insulation for residential properties.
The Airports Commission has concluded that even with the extra flights added by the airport’s expansion, fewer people would be affected by noise from Heathrow by 2030 than they are today.
Following the clear recommendation of the Airports Commission, the government said that it had conducted more work on the environmental impact.
It said that that work is now complete and confirmed that a new runway at Heathrow was deliverable within air quality limits, if necessary mitigation measures are put in place. These will be in line with the National air quality plan, published in December 2015.
Heathrow expansion is expected to deliver:
- Economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61bn over 60 years
- Lower fares relative to no expansion, fewer delays, better connections to destinations including to Asia and South America
- Up to 77,000 additional local jobs created by 2030
- Heathrow has committed to 5,000 new apprenticeships by 2030
- An extra 16M long haul passenger seats in 2040
- Six new regional routes proposed by Heathrow – giving 14 in total
- Following consultation, a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights will be introduced for the first time at Heathrow
- A mitigation package for the local community most affected by expansion worth up to £2.6bn.
Mitigation package to include:
- People with homes subject to compulsory purchase receiving 125% of full market value for their homes, plus stamp duty, legal fees and moving costs
- A package of over £700M of noise insulation for homes
- £40M to insulate and ventilate schools and other community buildings
- In addition, up to £450M could be available to local authorities through business rate retention. A community compensation fund could make a further £750M available to local communities. This will be determined through the planning process.