The transport select committee says safeguards to protect local residents need to be strengthened
Heathrow’s third runway should be blocked unless the government introduces tough new restrictions on costs, pollution, aircraft noise and night flights, according to MPs.

The transport select committee said that safeguards designed to protect local residents and airport passengers had to be strengthened before the plans are approved.

The cross-party group ultimately supported the proposed northwest runway, concluding in a report that it was the best option for airport expansion in the southeast. However, it said that the government’s national policy statement (NPS) — the planning consent needed to pave the way for the two-mile runway — should only be passed by MPs if crucial new conditions were imposed on the airport to limit its environmental and economic impact.

In a series of recommendations, the report said there was no “guarantee that passengers will be protected” if building costs escalate, with the committee calling for a promise to keep landing charges flat in real terms. It said approval should only be granted if Heathrow can guarantee not to worsen air quality in west London or increase the number of polluting cars being driven to the airport.

MPs called for the proposed existing six-and-a-half-hour ban on night flights to be extended to seven hours. The report also said that the government’s previously lenient assessment of aircraft noise should be rerun to provide a “fair view of the range of possible noise impacts”.

They also demanded more clarity on the funding and timing of changes to the airport’s rail and road links — particularly the M25 — and on how the government intended to secure 15 per cent of new slots for domestic flights. MPs said that without these changes there was a risk that anti-Heathrow groups would successfully block the project through the courts.

The government is expected to respond to the report before drafting its final NPS, due to be put before a vote of MPs by the end of June.

Heathrow said that the report represented an endorsement of its £14 billion plan. It said that none of the conditions represented a barrier to expansion.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “This report is very clear. Airport expansion in the southeast is vital and the Heathrow northwest runway is the best option for delivering it. Expansion will only proceed if it meets strict environmental obligations.”