Airports Commission launches 6 week consultation on appraisal framework for short-listed runway schemes
The Chairman of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, launched the most recent consultation by the Commission, at the RunwaysUK conference on 16th January. This consultation is on its appraisal framework, and ends on 28th February. The aim is to set out how the runway schemes it short-listed (2 at Heathrow, one at Gatwick and the possibility one for the Isle of Grain will be added by late summer 2014) will be assessed in terms of social, economic and environmental criteria. A summary of responses will be published within 3 months of the consultation closing. The document is 127 pages long, requiring detailed and carefully considered responses. On environmental matters, the Commission lists their objectives, for appraisal of schemes, to include: minimising noise impacts; protecting local air quality; minimising CO2 emissions in airport construction and operation (not from flights); protecting quality of ground and surface water, using water efficiently and reducing flood risk; and minimising impacts on existing landscape character and heritage assets. Under the heading “People” their objectives are to maintain and where possible improve the quality of life for local residents; manage and reduce the effects of housing loss on local communities; and reduce or avoid disproportionate impacts on any social group. They also ask: Are there any other objectives that the Commission should consider, and if so what are they?
Airports Commission website:
The appraisal framework sets out in detail how the Airports Commission expects the scheme designs for additional airport capacity announced in December to be developed, and how the schemes will be appraised. This consultation invites responses on the draft framework which consists of 4 inter-related elements:
– the Commission’s objectives, against which options will be assessed and on which its final recommendations will be based
– a refreshed scheme design for each short-listed option, to be used as the starting point for appraisal
– a business case and sustainability assessment for each option, incorporating the information needed to make informed assessments against the Commission’s objectives
– a set of appraisal modules explaining the methodologies that the Commission proposes to use in assessing options.
The document is at:
Ways to respond
Great Smith Street
The consultation document
It is a long, complicated document of 127 pages. Below are just a few extracts of it, to give a flavour of just a tiny bit of it.
The consultation document says:
This draft Appraisal Framework sets out in detail how the Commission expects scheme designs to be developed, and how the schemes will be appraised. The framework incorporates four inter-related elements:
• the Commission’s objectives, against which options will be assessed and on
which its final recommendations will be based;
• an updated scheme design for each short-listed option, to be used as the
starting point for appraisal;
• a business case and sustainability assessment for each option, incorporating
the information needed to make informed assessments against the Commission’s
• a set of appraisal modules explaining the methodologies that the Commission
proposes to use in assessing options.
Each of these is described in more detail in this document, and the Commission welcomes views on its suggested approach in each case (whilst noting that the requirement to develop business cases and sustainability assessments for each option is prescribed by its terms of reference).
In Phase 2 [ie. now] scheme promoters should take the lead role in designing and developing
their schemes. The Commission will work with scheme promoters to ensure their schemes contain all the evidence necessary to undertake a fair and comparable assessments.
2.2 The Commission will appraise schemes in line with the guidance set out in the final
version of its Appraisal Framework.
2.3 This draft Appraisal Framework has been based on the principles that were used
for the identification of viable long-term options for delivering new capacity ahead of
the Commission’s Interim Report.
2.4 The Commission’s proposed approach is based, therefore, on the same sift criteria
categories used in assessing long-term options in the first phase of its work. These
• strategic fit;
• surface access;
• operational viability; and
As the basis for reaching the recommendations in its final report, the Commission has identified a number of objectives within each category against which it intends to assess the merits of proposals. These are described in Chapter 3 of this document. The Commission recognises that, in developing and appraising schemes, there may need to be a degree of trade-off between these objectives.
2.6 The first stage in assessing the short-listed options against these objectives will be
the development of updated scheme designs. Chapter 4 of this document outlines the information that the Commission intends to ask scheme promoters to provide.
Under Environment, the Commission lists their objectives as:
To minimise noise impacts. Noise.
To protect local air quality. Air Quality
To protect natural habitats and maintain biodiversity. Biodiversity
To minimise carbon emissions in airport construction and operation. Carbon
To protect the quality of surface and ground waters, use water resources efficiently and minimise flood risk. Water and Flood Risk
To minimise impacts on existing landscape character and heritage assets. Place
To identify and mitigate any other significant environmental impacts. To be defined
and on People their objectives are:
To maintain and where possible improve the quality of life for local residents and the wider population. Quality of Life
To manage and reduce the effects of housing loss on local communities. Community
To reduce or avoid disproportionate impacts on any social group
5.5 In some areas, however, the Commission has outlined appraisal approaches which it thinks will, alongside standard methodologies, help it capture and understand the impacts of delivering major new aviation infrastructure. These approaches include methodologies for considering national and local economic impacts, noise impacts and quality of life impacts of proposed schemes. In addition, the Commission is keen to consider impacts, where possible, across the full lifetime of a scheme, taking into account a range of possibilities for how the aviation industry and other relevant variables may develop over time. This will require the complex assessment of dynamic and uncertain future scenarios.
5.6 The Commission’s decisions will continue to be informed by the principles of strategic environmental assessment, such that at the point of any future decision the Government will have access to a body of environmental information that could inform policy development. This will include both the materials already produced in support of the Commission’s Interim Report and the appraisal materials prepared in this phase of the Commission’s work programme.
5.7 The Commission will take the lead in appraising the updated scheme designs submitted by promoters. Since effective scheme design will need to be based on an appropriate understanding of the potential impacts of the proposal, however, scheme promoters may carry out appraisals of their own to inform their design work. The Commission will consider any such timely appraisal information submitted by proposers. However, the final responsibility for all scheme appraisals will lie with the Commission.
5.8 Scheme promoters will benefit from working closely with the Commission to ensure they are pursuing any assessments in line with the methodologies outlined in this document.
5.21 The aim of the Commission’s sustainability assessment is to provide robust information about the performance of each proposal against a range of relevant indicators. In line with the principles of sustainable development, this includes examining the likely social, environmental and economic effects of the shortlisted proposals. Where potential significant adverse effects are identified, the sustainability assessment is intended to review and take account of options for avoiding or mitigating these. The process also allows for the identification of opportunities to undertake social, economic and environmental enhancement.
5.22 Should the Government use the Commission’s recommendations as the basis for a
future National Policy Statement, it is intended that the information and analysis in the Commission’s sustainability assessment would provide a useful foundation for the production of the associated Appraisal of Sustainability.
5.23 As with the economic appraisal in the business case, each sustainability assessment
will be undertaken against a baseline. Individual assessment modules articulate how this baseline will be established.
Appendix C: Consultation questions
1. Are the objectives stated in Table 3.1 (pages 11 and 12 of document) suitable for assessing the short-listed options?
If not please explain why not, and suggest any alterations you feel would make them more suitable.
2. Are there any other objectives that the Commission should consider, and if so what are they?
3. Will the appraisal modules described in Appendix A be sufficient to analyse the short-listed options against the stated objectives? If not please explain why not, and provide examples or evidence to support your answer.
4. Will the appraisal modules described in Appendix A be sufficient to construct business cases and sustainability assessments to enable the Commission to make recommendations and the Government to act on these? If not please explain why not, and provide examples or evidence to support your answer.
5. Are the five components of the updated scheme design set out in Appendix B suitable for understanding schemes’ potential performance against the stated objectives? If not, please suggest any modifications that you think would make them more suitable.
6. Is the level of detail in the components for the updated scheme design set out in Appendix B appropriate given the likelihood that some schemes may not progress to full stages of development? Please provide examples or evidence to support your answer.