The government has issued a revised draft version of its Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), updating its stance on the much-debated expansion of London’s aviation capacity. While a third runway at Heathrow is still being supported, the report calls on the airport to take steps to ensure disruption in the area is handled properly.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling set out the next stage of delivering a third runway at Heathrow, with a final proposal to be published in time for a parliamentary vote in the first half of 2018, according to a government statement.
The draft sets out a planning policy framework, which an applicant would have to comply with in order to be granted consent to begin works on a new runway, including:
- delivering at least six more domestic routes across the UK by 2030
- providing a package of support for communities affected, including noise insulation for homes and schools
- setting legally-binding noise targets, periods of predictable respite and a ban of six-and-a-half hours on scheduled night flights
- paying home owners 25 per cent above market value rate plus costs for the purchase of houses if needed to make room for the new runway.
Grayling says the government is building on Heathrow’s pledge to put forward a package worth up to £2.6 billion. Planning consent will only be given if the airport can put forward a strategy to stay within air quality and climate change regulations. The transport secretary also says he will have the power to review any flight path changes if he feels they are of ‘national significance’.
The new draft NPS comes after Grayling delayed a decision on Heathrow’s third runway following the general election, saying the need to form a new select committee pushed everything back. However, he comments that airport expansion is needed to boost the UK economy.
“Leaving the EU is a new chapter for Britain and provides us with a great opportunity to forge a new role in the world,” Grayling said. “We are determined to seize that opportunity and having the right infrastructure in place will allow us to build a more global Britain.”
The public now has until December 19 to respond to the draft NPS, after which point a final version will be drafted for review by Parliament.
A Heathrow spokesperson said the forecasts given in the consultation show expanding the airport “is even more important than previously realised” and claimed it has “already pledged to meet or exceed the conditions recommended by the Airports Commission to address impacts on local communities and the environment”.
Meanwhile, a Gatwick spokesperson commented that the airport welcomes the revised draft and will “look carefully” at the consultation material. Gatwick also claims to be offering a “credible” privately-financed runway addition.