Campaign group HACAN has urged ministers to be bold enough to reject a third runway if the National Policy Statement consultation, issued today, reveals real problems with the proposal. As expected, transport secretary Chris Grayling when launching the consultation highlighted the importance of a new runway to the post-Brexit economy but HACAN, which gives a voice to residents under the flight paths, argues that the downsides of a new runway are also considerable.
HACAN chair John Stewart said, “There is no way that a quarter of a million extra planes a year cannot but have a severe impact on many people’s lives. A third runway will also mean the demolition of many homes and could add to London’s air pollution problems. The Government must be even-handed in assessing the consultation and reject a third runway if, as we believe, its downsides are simply too high.”
Stewart added: “Heathrow still has considerable hurdles to overcome before a third runway can see the light of day. The Government has for the first time made permission for a new runway conditional on it serving unfashionable UK destinations for which there is a limited market and on Heathrow ensuring there will be no increase in airport related road traffic if the runway is built. These are very big asks indeed.”
The consultation will last for 16 weeks. After that the proposals will be considered by the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee. Parliament will vote on the National Policy Statement late 2017/early 2018. Only if it is approved will a third runway become Government policy.
If it is approved, next year Heathrow will need to draw up detailed plans for the new runway which are expected to go to a planning inquiry in 2019. Heathrow does not expect to get final approval for the third runway until 2020 or 2021.
The Government also launched a national consultation today on its future airspace strategy. It will asking for views on the principles which it should use in making airspace changes – for example, if people prefer concentrated flight paths or a more dispersed approach. But it will not deal with detailed flight paths. It will be at least another 18 months before it becomes clearer where Heathrow’s new flight paths will be if a third runway is given the go-ahead.
Department for Transport media briefing: http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/DfT-consultation-press-release-1.pdf
For more information:
John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650