Community engagement a condition of expansion

In this short blog I argue that the Department for Transport in its forthcoming White Paper should make expansion or growth at any airport conditional on quality community engagement:

We don’t know yet what will happen with the third runway at Heathrow.  But whether or not it is dropped, it is important that one aspect of the process remains: the community engagement Heathrow has undertaken as part of its efforts to secure a third runway.

Some of the engagement was undertaken voluntarily; some was mandated by the National Policy Statement – Heathrow would not get its third runway unless it had shown it had engaged with its local community.

The proposal in this short blog is that future expansion at any airport across the country should be conditional on good community engagement.  It should become a key criterion in determining whether the expansion is given the go-ahead.

If a third runway is dropped, the Government will be encouraging growth at other airports.  Yet many of them are very poor at engaging with their communities.  It was clear at a recent Aviation Communities Forum conference, which brought together campaigners from across the country, that most airports just do not have adequate engagement procedures in place.

ICCAN, the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, is planning to publish a best practice guide later this year.  That will be very welcome.  But isn’t there a case for the Department for Transport in its forthcoming Aviation White Paper to go one step further and make expansion/growth conditional on first-rate community engagement?