With Heathrow consultations starting soon, critics warn of insurmountable flaws in its runway plans
Heathrow will publish its public consultations, on its hopes for a 3rd runway, on Wednesday 17th January. It says this is to gather public feedback on its proposals, to help refine its plans further (ie. see what tweaks it needs to make, to try and get round the most serious criticisms). The consultations will include options for how to get the runway to cross Britain’s busiest motorway, the M25, and provide detail on the cost-cutting it has envisaged to trim £2.5bn off expansion costs. Meanwhile London’s deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross, has said that she and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are in “no doubt that the government is pushing ahead with the wrong option.” She said there are currently “no significant plans for investment in public transport access to the airport.” This would come at an immense cost to Londoners, and Val said it was “a disastrous failing and it’s vital that the government acknowledges these insurmountable flaws and changes course now”. Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald said: ‘Heathrow’s planning consultation must provide firm commitments on noise, air pollution, climate change and wider UK airport growth to ensure support from Labour MPs, the public and the aviation industry.”
Heathrow hails expansion progress as critics warn of ‘insurmountable flaws’
Monday 15 January 2018
By Rebecca Smith (City AM)
A key milestone looms for Heathrow this week, as the airport launches a consultation with fleshed-out revamped proposals for expansion to appease critics.
London’s biggest airport will on Wednesday start a public planning consultation on the project, to gather public feedback on its proposals which it said will help refine its plans further.
It will set out the options for addressing the question of how to cross Britain’s busiest motorway, the M25, and provide detail on the cost-cutting it has envisaged to trim £2.5bn off expansion costs.
The Transport Select Committee meanwhile, will meet today for another session scrutinising the government’s airports national policy statement (NPS), setting out its case for progressing with the third runway.
London’s deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross is among those giving evidence, with mayor Sadiq Khan a vocal critic of the third runway.
“We know that the south east needs greater airport capacity to support economic growth, but Sadiq is in no doubt that the government is pushing ahead with the wrong option,” she said.
“An expanded Heathrow will undermine London’s ability to meet legal air quality limits, have dire consequences on the roads, continue to cause significant noise harm to Londoners and all for fewer economic benefits than a second runway at Gatwick,” Shawcross added, saying currently there were “no significant plans for investment in public transport access to the airport” provided.
Shawcross said this was “a disastrous failing and it’s vital that the government acknowledges these insurmountable flaws and changes course now”.
A parliament vote looms on the government’s NPS too, set to go before MPs in the summer.
Labour’s shadow transport secretary has said he thinks there will be sufficient backing in parliament but says key questions still need to be answered by Heathrow.
Andy McDonald said: “‘Heathrow’s planning consultation must provide firm commitments on noise, air pollution, climate change and wider UK airport growth to ensure support from Labour MPs, the public and the aviation industry.”
Business groups are keen to see the proposals progress, but say the airport is not home and dry just yet.
“As we progress towards expansion at Heathrow, it will be critical for the airport to work with local communities and find practical ways to mitigate the impact – this public consultation and ongoing scrutiny are important parts of the process,” said David Leam, infrastructure director at London First.
Sean McKee, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s director of policy said: “With Brexit on the horizon and the main political focus being what Britain’s future trading arrangements might look like, now more than ever do we need to be considering the practicalities how to connect our island economy to the rest of the world.”
Heathrow meanwhile, says the consultation “represents a major milestone to deliver Heathrow expansion in a way that is fair to our local communities, meets or exceeds strict environmental targets set by the Airports Commission and creates opportunities for businesses that will deliver a stronger, more sustainable UK in a post Brexit world”.
A spokesperson for the airport said: “Heathrow remains on track to deliver a once-in-a-generation boost for the economy, in a way that is affordable, financeable and deliverable.”