The government has insisted that the multi-billion-pound expansion of Heathrow Airport is still on track despite relaunching a public consultation on its proposals for a third runway.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said the case for Heathrow expansion was “as strong as ever” and the government was on track to publish its final proposals for expansion next year, ahead of a parliamentary vote in the first half of 2018.
The comments come after the Department for Transport launched a new public consultation on its revised draft Airports National Policy Statement, which includes the Heathrow plans, based on fresh analysis carried out by the department.
The analysis revealed a number of changes to previously presented evidence, including new data on environmental impacts of building runways at Gatwick and Heathrow, as well as estimations on the economic benefits both airports would bring.
This saw Gatwick surpass Heathrow as the airport with biggest long-term economic benefit.
The report said Gatwick would bring wider benefits to passengers and the economy over 60 years, with its economic contribution estimated at £74.1bn-£75.3bn for the period, compared with £72.8bn-£74.2bn for Heathrow.
The first draft document published by the government last October forecast Gatwick’s economic benefits to be £52.4bn-£53.7bn and Heathrow’s to hit £59.2bn-£61.1bn.
It also stated that a second runway at Gatwick would have a lower risk of breaching air quality standards compared with Heathrow.
Hear from Heathrow
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye will give a keynote address at the CN Summit next month on 21 November.
Phil Wilbraham, expansion programme director at Heathrow, will also speak on an offsite construction panel later that day.
The panel also includes:
- Tomas Garcia, lead bridge engineer, HS2
- David Hancock, construction director, IPA
- Stephen Kinsella, accelerated construction director, HCA
- Rachel Stephenson, programme director for Priority School Building Programme
Visit the CN Summit website to download the programme and book your place at this year’s must-attend conference.
Gatwick Airport welcomed the new evidence, adding that it still “offered a credible privately financed runway plan for the government”.
The relaunching of the consultation comes a month after National Infrastructure Commission chairman Lord Adonis called the UK’s airport policy a “national disgrace”.
Lord Adonis also rated the chances of the government making a decision on Heathrow next year as only 50:50.
The deadline for responses to the consultation is 19 December.
The government will then provide a full Airports National Policy statement before parliament in the first half of 2018, with MPs then voting on whether to press ahead with Heathrow expansion.
If Heathrow gets the green light it will begin its development consent order planning application, with construction scheduled to start in 2021 for a 2025 completion date.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We remain on track to build an expanded Heathrow and deliver a once-in-a-generation boost for the economy in a way that is affordable, financeable and deliverable.
“The consultation launched today is a key milestone in developing the Airports NPS which will strengthen the policy framework for expanding Heathrow.”