The Department for Transport (DfT) published a series of fresh reports into the impact of expanding the west London hub, including updated noise analysis and a new air quality plan.

The initial consultation on the draft Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), which sets out the government’s support for the third runway, initially closed in May 2017.

This consultation attracted significant support for the expansion of the airport, with 80% of responses coming from supporters of campaign groups Back Heathrow and Your Heathrow, both of which support the third runway.

However, the consultation has now been re-opened until December 19. This decision comes almost a year to the day since the government announced its support for the third runway, on October 25 2016.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “The case for expanding Heathrow is as strong as ever and we want to hear your views on it.

“This is an important consultation and I encourage everybody to get involved across the UK.”

The DfT insisted it is “on track” to publish final proposals for expansion in the first half of 2018 for a vote in Parliament.

If the scheme is approved by MPs, Heathrow will submit a planning application and consult with local communities on detailed proposals.

The airport hopes to begin construction in early 2021, with the runway completed by the end of 2025.

The government’s revised draft NPS says the negative impacts on quality of life, including from increased noise and decreased air quality, from the third runway would be greater than the alternative proposal of expanding Gatwick Airport.

However, the draft goes on to say that “when assessing against the objective of maximising economic benefits and improving competitiveness and employment, the Heathrow [Third] Runway scheme generates the most benefits, as well as producing the highest direct benefits to passengers.”

The revised NPS also increased the number of passengers forecast to use the expanded Heathrow Airport by 2040 from 27 million to 28 million per year, while decreasing its estimate for the overall number of additional flights from 125,000 to 113,000 per year.

Cait Hewitt, deputy director of campaign group the Aviation Environment Federation, claimed the “scale of this re-consultation” showed the government’s case for Heathrow expansion is “unconvincing”.

She said: “It is difficult to see how this new information can avoid delaying the process, as MPs and the public will need time to understand how the new forecasts impact emissions, noise and the sustainability appraisal of the project.

“These address fundamental questions about the project’s viability and have been provided at a late stage in this process.”

A Heathrow spokesman said: “The consultation launched today is a key milestone in developing the Airports NPS which will strengthen the policy framework for expanding Heathrow.

“The forecasts show expanding Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport, is even more important than previously realised.

“A third runway will ensure Britain’s place in the world as an outward-looking trading nation. That’s why the government has committed to a final vote on expansion in the first half of 2018.”



Further Heathrow consultation launched as MPs prepare to debate impact of scheme

By Bradley Gerrard (Telegraph)
24 OCTOBER 2017

The Government has launched a fresh round of consultations on the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport with critical MPs set to debate the potential economic and environmental impacts of the project in Parliament tomorrow.

Its revised draft Airports National Policy Statement, which the Government had pre-announced in September, takes into account updated noise analysis and a new air quality plan as well as policy changes since the independent Airports Commission backed the Heathrow project in 2016.

The revised document said updated international evidence on vehicle emission forecasts was published at the end of September last year and this had to be considered in terms of the expansion’s potential compliance with emissions legislation.

The Government has said though it believes with a “suitable package of policy and mitigation measures”, including its modified air quality plan, the northwest runway scheme at Heathrow would be capable of being carried out without impacting the UK’s compliance of air quality limits.

The new document also says Heathrow Airport “should continue to strive to meet its public pledge to have landside airport-related traffic no greater than today”, something critics will likely scoff at.

Various senior MPs are also lining up to speak out against the planned expansion in the new round of consultation, which runs until Dec 19.

Ruth Cadbury MP has secured a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament at 11am on Wednesday on the subject of the “economic and environmental impacts of airport expansion”.

Zac Goldsmith, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group scrutinising the expansion and Conservative MP for Richmond Park, said: “Almost all aspects of the Airports Commission report, on which the Government’s position is based, have been fatally undermined.

“On economic benefits, passenger numbers, connectivity, economic benefits and on air pollution – the Commission’s findings have all had to be significantly revised – and in all cases worsening the case for expansion.”

He added that besides the planning and financial risks of the project, it would cost the taxpayer “billions”.

A spokesman for Heathrow said the forecasts in the revised document showed that expanding Heathrow was “even more important than previously realised”.

It added the expansion was “affordable, financeable and deliverable”, and that it would meet or exceed the conditions suggested by the Airports Commission to mitigate the impacts on local communities and the environment.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told MPs that the new forecasts “show that the need for additional runway capacity is even greater than originally thought”.

MPs are due to vote on a final Airports National Policy Statement in the first half of 2018.