Have your say... again

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

THE pub­lic is be­ing in­vited to com­ment again on the pro­posed third run­way at Heathrow Air­port af­ter the Govern­ment pub­lished new ev­i­dence re­lat­ing to the ex­pan­sion.

The re­ports, pub­lished by the Depart­ment for Trans­port (DfT), in­clude up­dated fore­casts for pas­sen­ger num­bers, up­dated noise anal­y­sis and a new air qual­ity plan.

The new draft Air­ports Na­tional Pol­icy State­ment , which still sup­ports the third run­way as the Govern­ment’s pre­ferred op­tion, will be open to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion un­til De­cem­ber 19.

Around 80% of re­sponses to the ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion on the third run­way, which closed in May 2017, were pos­i­tive, hav­ing been or­gan­ised by pro­third run­way cam­paign groups Back Heathrow and Your Heathrow. The de­ci­sion to re­open the con­sul­ta­tion comes al­most a year to the day since the Govern­ment an­nounced its sup­port for the third run­way on Oc­to­ber 25 2016.

The DfT has in­sisted it is still “on track” to present its fi­nal pro­pos­als for ex­pan­sion to Par­lia­ment in the first half of 2018. MPs will then vote on the pro­pos­als and, if the scheme is ap­proved, 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.

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 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.”

The case for ex­pand­ing Heathrow is as strong as ever

Photo: getty Im­ages

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