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On 25 June 2018, Parliament formally backed Heathrow expansion, with MPs voting in support of the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement. The ANPS (Airports National Policy Statement) set out Government policy for new airport capacity including support for a new north-west runway at Heathrow.
On 27 February 2020, the Court of Appeal provided its judgments on the judicial review claims against the Government’s decision to publish the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS)– this is the policy which provides support for a new north-west runway at Heathrow. The Government was successful on all grounds, apart from one related to climate change. The judgment makes clear that the Court has not decided, and could not decide, that there will be no third runway at Heathrow, nor that a national policy supporting expansion is necessarily incompatible with the UK’s climate change commitments. However, the effect of the judgment was to suspend the ANPS unless and until a review is undertaken by the Government. Heathrow has been granted permission by the Supreme Court to appeal on this one issue.
Our expansion plans will inevitably be delayed as we await the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision, and also as we face the continuing impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are currently focusing all our efforts on protecting our passengers and colleagues; keeping Britain’s vital trading links open at this critical time; and supporting our local communities, airlines, and Team Heathrow community as we all face unprecedented challenges linked to the outbreak.
While our work is focused on Coronavirus and planning for recovery, and while there is currently no enabling policy in place for the expansion of the airport, our expansion plans are on pause and we can confirm that we have no plans to submit an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) at the end of 2020, as was previously planned, or in the near future.
The expansion of Heathrow is not just about the physical changes required on the ground. Building a new runway will also lead to changes to the flight paths planes follow. This is known as an “airspace change”.
The aviation industry is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK, and they ensure that the environmental impact of aviation on local communities is managed through efficient use of airspace. When changes to airspace are proposed, an airport is required to follow the CAA’s Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) process. The process places great importance on engaging and consulting on airspace proposals throughout the process with a wide range of stakeholders, including potentially affected communities.
Although a formal consultation is only required at a later stage of the CAA’s airspace change process, given the scale and complexity of Heathrow’s airspace changes, we decided to carry out three phases of consultation. These stages are; the consultation on design principles in 2018, the consultation on design envelopes which was held between January and March 2019, and a future consultation on flight path options. This gives all stakeholders the best opportunity to be involved throughout the process to help shape the design and structure of Heathrow’s future airspace.
Once we have an update regarding the Supreme Court’s decision about the future of the expansion programme, we will be able to give updates regarding future consultation and engagement on possible airspace changes.
Heathrow’s statutory consultation on its expansion plans took place between 18 June 2019 and 13 September 2019. More information about this consultation can be found here:
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