Possible timescale for consultations and processes needed for a new runway
Date added: October 19, 2016
If the government makes an announcement that it proposes to build a new runway at its preferred location, on Tuesday 25th October, that is merely the start of a process. And it could be a very long process, that may ultimately not end in a runway being built. Looking at the possible timescale, Patrick McLoughlin set out in evidence (Feb 2015) to the Transport Select Cttee, how he expected the timescale to work. This would all take probably at least two years, if there were not hold-ups at all, and no legal challenges. It is expected that the process could take at least four years in reality – getting past the next election (if that is in May 2020). The steps might be approximately: (1). A draft National Policy Statement published for consultation and laid in Parliament, at least 4 weeks after the announcement. (2). The consultation might be 4 months. (3). A Commons Select Cttee will examine the draft NPS and hold a 3 month public inquiry. (4). The Commons Select Cttee will then submit a report to the Secretary of State for Transport. (5). Once a final NPS is laid, debates and votes must happen within 21 sitting days of the House. (6). There might be more changes needed to the NPS and another vote. (7). The developer submits a development consent order to the planning inspectorate. (8). Then a planning inquiry and examination for 6 months. (9). The planning inspector will report to the Sec of State within 3 months. (10). The Sec of State will consider the report and announce a decision in 3 months. And this is not counting legal challenges, at any stage.
Mr McLoughlin: I can let you have a much more detailed note on what happens with a development consent application. Basically, there are:
– six months for the planning inquiryand examination in public;
– three months for the planning inspector to report to the Secretary of State;
– three months for the Secretary of State to consider, report and announce a decision;
– a six-week period for any potential judicial reviews; and within that period there are also parliamentary occasions when Parliament can take a vote on the issues.
Question 62 [ with estimates of time, by AirportWatch, not Patrick McLoughlin ]
Mr McLoughlin: I went through it a few moments ago. Earlier this morning, I had a very good aide-mémoire which went right the way through it, but I can’t put my hand on it at the moment. The timeline at the moment is for a decision by the Government on the preferred location. Then there will be
– a draft national policy statement published for consultation and laid in Parliament.
– This is published a minimum of four weeks after the announcement on the runway location to avoid the legal risk of pre-determination. [Pre-determination means bias …. AW note] (So far 1 month)
– There is no decision yet on the length of the public consultation, but it could be 16 weeks. (So far 5 months)
– A Commons Select Committee will examine the draft NPS and hold a full-blown inquiry for 12 weeks immediately following the public consultation. (So far 8 months)
– The Commons Select Committee will submit a report to [the Secretary of State for Transport] by the end of the 12-week period. (So far 8 months – maybe 9 months?
– Once a final NPS is laid, debates and votes must happenwithin 21 sitting days of the House. (So far 9 months)
– At any time after the vote, or it could be the same day, if there is a negative vote, the Secretary of State will change and lay a new NPS, again for 21 voting days. (So far might be 9 – 12 months)
After that has happened, the next steps, post the 12 months, are that
– the developer submits a development consent order to the planning inspectorate;
– there is a planning inquiry and examination of six months, which is fixed; (So far 18 months)
– the planning inspector will report to the Secretary of State within a fixed three months; (So far 21 months)
– and the Secretary of State will consider the report and announce a decision—again fixed at three months. (So far 24 months)
– The potential JR will be for a six-week period thereafter, as well as at any stage along the line if we did not fulfil the role correctly. That is the big change that came about as a result of the 2008 Planning Act. There is a much clearer timetable as far as developments like these are concerned.
Total about 2 years, not including Judicial Reviews.
Heathrow or Gatwick: Final decision could be two years away
He said: “...there will be a draft National Policy Statement (NPS) published for consultation and laid in Parliament. This is published a minimum of four weeks after the announcement on the runway location to avoid the legal risk of pre-determination.
“There is no decision yet on the length of the public consultation, but it could be 16 weeks. A Commons Select Committee will examine the draft NPS and hold a full-blown inquiry for 12 weeks immediately following the public consultation.
“The Commons Select Committee will submit a report to me by the end of the 12-week period. Once a final NPS is laid, debates and votes must happen within 21 sitting days of the House. At any time after the vote, or it could be the same day, if there is a negative vote, the Secretary of State will change and lay a new NPS, again for 21 voting days.”
So, there will be around a year before Parliament gets a vote on that National Policy Statement. The Government will be expected to address concerns over noise and pollution.
And it is then, and only then, that it enters the planning process.
First the developer submits a development to the planning inspectorate. Then there is a planning inquiry over six months. Then the planning inspector reports to the Secretary of State within three months.
And finally the Secretary of State will consider the report and announce a decision within a further three months.
So an actual “final” announcement could be two years from the initial Government decision – and that is with a fair wind.
There will be gaps and delays in the process, there are those who think two years is the absolute minimum and the reality is it will take at least four years before a “final decision”.
None of the timescales include the legal challenges that could slow down the process further. (Bear in mind this is meant to be a quicker process than was in place previously).
History tells us how difficult it is to build new runways in the South East and how strong the opposition is.
All fell off the table during the long process as the politics shifted. Even Labour, with its large majority under Tony Blair, could not get far enough through the process to build at Heathrow.
Recently, Howard Davies – in charge of the latest Airports Commission – perhaps pertinently noted: “The London airport capacity problem has perplexed governments for over 50 years, for reasons that are not hard to find.
Howard Davies: “The considerable benefits of aviation accrue to the many, while the environmental costs are borne by the (relatively) few. For those who live near them airports are noisy neighbours and are greedy for space.
“In a congested corner of a crowded island it is not easy to find a good home for them. No new full-length runway has been laid down in the South East of England since the 1940s.”
So after the decision is made next week, it is not the end at all. It is really just another beginning.