On 25 June 2018, Parliament formally backed Heathrow expansion, with MPs voting in support of the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (Airports NPS).
The Airports NPS sets out Government policy for new airport infrastructure including support for a new north west runway at Heathrow.
This is an important milestone and it means Heathrow will continue to proceed with its application for development consent, subject to any successful legal challenges. Throughout the planning process there will be opportunities for local communities and stakeholders to continue to influence and shape our proposals.
Development Consent Order
With the Airports NPS in place, Heathrow will apply to the Planning Inspectorate for what is known as a Development Consent Order (DCO) – it will need to be approved by the Secretary of State for Transport. This is required for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects like Heathrow. The DCO will contain most of the consents and powers that we need to build and operate the third runway.
The DCO process places real importance on engagement with residents and stakeholders and there will continue to be opportunities to influence the proposals through the planning process over the coming months and years.
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 have decided to carry out three phases of consultation.
These stages are; the consultation on design principles in 2018, the consultation on design envelopes 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. Our January-March 2019 consultation on design envelopes gave stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback that will help us to shape our flight path options for the future consultation. This means we do not have flight path options to consult on at this stage.
Airport Expansion Consultation
Heathrow’s statutory consultation on its expansion plans will commence on 18th June 2019 and end on 13th September 2019. This consultation will seek feedback on four key areas:
- Heathrow’s preferred masterplan for expansion
- Plans to operate the future airport
- Assessment of impacts of the airport’s growth
- Plans to manage the impacts of expansion
Following the conclusion of this consultation and after feedback has been incorporated, Heathrow will submit a final proposal to the Planning Inspectorate in 2020. The decision on whether to grant the DCO will be made by the Secretary of State following a public examination period led by the Planning Inspectorate.