Go-ahead for development will intensify debate on air quality and noise pollution
end the heated debate over the environmental consequences of expanding Britain’s
England, at Heathrow and Stansted, in 2003. It said expansion could go ahead on
the condition that environmental guidelines were met.
is about whether the airport can grow without breaching those standards.
criteria: European air quality guidelines, noise pollution limits and better
public transport links to the airport.
be met, but it has spent nearly a year sifting through the responses, many of
them objecting to its conclusions because they were drawn up with the assistance
of Heathrow’s owner, BAA.
and departures on the existing runways will breach safety guidelines for nitrogen
dioxide – a noxious compound produced by aircraft engines that can cause respiratory
diseases. The flight changes will be implemented by introducing a scheduling
change known as “mixed mode”, whereby both runways are used for arrivals and departures
constantly. Under existing rules to give residents some respite from noise, one
runway must be used for take-offs only and the other for arrivals. Stavros Dimas,
the European commissioner for the environment, has warned that introducing mixed
mode will exceed nitrogen dioxide limits “significantly”.
to a noise of up to 57 decibels must not be larger than 127 sq km. The government
believes this is possible, but it has drawn criticism for admitting that the third runway would have to operate far below capacity for the first 10 years
of its existence because it would breach those noise limits otherwise.
backbench and public critics by announcing a package of public transport measures
alongside the decision, including a north-south high-speed rail link connecting
its verdict on three Heathrow expansion options, all of which include the third runway.
as early as next year, followed by full mixed mode in 2015 and the opening of
a third runway by 2020.
an increase in flights, with a third runway. The last is to leave the airport
unchanged until the third runway opens in 2020.
of £13.5bn but would generate economic benefits of £18.9bn – figures that are
hotly disputed by some economists and green groups. The number of annual flights
would rise from 480,000 to 702,000, the equivalent of 600 extra flights a day
upon BAA. However, any planning inquiry must consider the proposal in the light of government approval
for the project and assurances from ministers that it will pass noise and air pollution restrictions.
could ensure that the expansion does not happen.
in 2011, by drafting a new aviation policy if they win the next general election,
which must take place by June 2010 at the latest.
planning commission, which will fast-track inquiries for big transport projects
and will give a high priority to government policy in drafting its decisions.
By Jim Pickard, Political Correspondent
build a third runway at the London airport.
middle of next week if it is agreed by the cabinet on Tuesday
and Ed Miliband, energy secretary – have serious reservations, the project is
expected to get the go-ahead.
jobs by approving new investment in infrastructure projects.
train network in an attempt to reduce the environmental damage caused by the project.
the next general election.
their challenges to the courts in the coming months.
to discuss the project. Mr Hoon has also met some sceptical Labour MPs to try
to win them over.
had yet been made and the announcement could still be delayed until later in the
decision until the end of January, saying he needed more time to reach "the right
conclusion". He only became transport secretary after Ruth Kelly resigned in early
argument for a larger Heathrow, given that the airport has almost reached full
members of the public and other interested parties.
that ministers should listen to the thousands of people who had opposed the extension.
A third runway would increase its flights by almost a half, from 480,000 to 700,000
the congestion, noise and disturbance caused by the sprawling airport.