The UK government has backed a new runway at London’s Heathrow Airport, and the scheme will now be taken forward in the form of a draft national policy statement (NPS) for consultation.
The government said it was the first full-length runway in the South East of England since the Second World War.
It said that expansion costs would be paid for by the private sector, not by the taxpayer. It will be for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as the independent industry regulator, to work with Heathrow Airport, and airlines operating at the airport, on the detailed design and costs to ensure the scheme remains affordable, it said.
The government said that the airport expansion would be delivered through a “thorough, faster planning process” under the 2008 Planning Act and 2011 Localism Act.
It said it would set out the airport scheme it wanted, along with supporting evidence, in its NPS. Public and Members of Parliament will be consulted and there will be a vote in the House of Commons in about a year’s time.
This will be followed by a planning application by the airport to the Planning Inspector who will take a view and advise government of his decision. Final sign off will be by the Secretary of State for Transport, and then construction will start.
The Heathrow scheme includes plans for improved public transport links and for an ultra-low emissions zone for airport vehicles by 2025. It also has a target of at least 50% of passenger journeys to the airport being made on public transport by 2030.
Vincent Clancy, CEO of the global construction consultancy Turner & Townsend – project manager of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and the new Terminal 2 – said, “The decision will give a shot in the arm to Britain’s construction industry and create thousands of jobs as the delivery phase begins. But the long-term economic prize is likely to be the huge trade potential that will be unlocked by Heathrow’s extra capacity.
“Heathrow’s business case has been successfully made. But now it must be successfully delivered. The challenge for Britain’s construction industry is clear – together we must ensure that the third runway cements Heathrow’s position as the world-class, sustainable hub airport that the UK needs, and that global airlines demand.”
Paul Drechsler, president of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), said, “With contracts to tender for, apprentices to recruit and supply chains to build, this decision must be taken forward swiftly, giving businesses the confidence to invest.
“Our aviation capacity is set to run out as early as 2025, so it’s crucial we get spades in the ground as soon as possible to reap the benefits for jobs and growth, precisely when the country needs them most.”