Mixed Reaction to Transport Select Committee Report on Heathrow

MPs endorse expansion but want tougher conditions imposed before go ahead

CGI image of how extended airport might look

The cross party Transport Select Committee have published a key report on the Government’s plans to expand Heathrow airport. They have concluded that the option chosen by the government for a new runway at the north west of the existing airport is broadly correct but they have asked for new conditions to be met on sustainability, noise, transport links and air quality and that these be incorporated into the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) before it is presented to parliament.

The reports authors’ state, “The case for runway expansion in the South East is broadly accepted, although a significant minority rejects the need for expansion. We accept that there is a case as set out in the Airports NPS for additional runway capacity, in particular hub capacity. This is on the premise that any expansion is sustainable, consistent with legal obligations and that suitable mitigations will be in place to offset impacts on local communities affected by noise, health and social impacts.”

They conclude that Heathrow is the right place for expansion and accept the strategic arguments made by the Government saying the current proposals, “should offer the greatest strategic benefits, provided it can deliver the expected capacity, at the costs outlined in the NPS and on the timetable projected.”

They have recommended several additional conditions of approval to be included in the final version of the NPS on air quality, surface access, connectivity, costs and charges, noise, community impacts, resource and waste management.

Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury, whose constituency lies under the current and future final approach paths to Heathrow, said of the Transport Committee Report, “I’m glad that MPs on the Transport Committee have confirmed that the uncertainties about the costs of a third runway, its financial viability, and the noise and pollution impacts, are pushing the whole project into the ‘too difficult’ pile. They’ve done a thorough investigation and confirmed what many of us have been saying for years. I am glad they’ve concluded that Parliament cannot be expected to make a decision without much more detail.

“They’ve told the Government to do the work that should have been done already, on noise, pollution, costs and economic benefit the UK. I hope the Transport Committee then conducts a further inquiry to ensure its recommendations have been adhered to. And only then can there be a vote in Parliament.”

Two thirds of her constituency lies under the final approach path to Heathrow, and the rest lies under the final approach to the proposed third runway, which will particularly affect Osterley, Brentford and Chiswick.

Possible design for expanded terminal

HACAN, the campaign group which gives a voice to residents under the Heathrow flight paths, has welcomed the fact that the Transport Select Committee has recommended tougher conditions on noise and air quality should a third runway be given the go-ahead. These include a night flight ban of seven hours, longer than the six and a half hour break that was recommended by the Government.

HACAN Chair John Stewart said: “Although disappointed the Committee didn’t reject the third runway, we welcome the tougher environmental conditions which it has recommended. In particular we welcome its recommended seven hour night flight ban.”

Currently there is a ban on scheduled night flights from 11.30pm until 4.30am.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said, “We urge politicians across the political spectrum to ensure shovels are in the ground as soon as possible – it’s in the best interest of the UK economy, small businesses and the jobs they provide.

“It’s essential small firms are given the opportunity to play a major part in the huge procurement exercise to build both the runway and associated works and that promises for increased regional connectivity are delivered following a new runway being built. There must also be new routes overseas, boosting freight exports and connecting our world-beating businesses to new destinations, especially as we expect small firms to look to new markets post-Brexit.”

The Government will now be expected to respond to the Committee. A vote on the NPS is expected to take place in Parliament in the summer. If it is backed by Parliament, a third runway becomes Government policy and Heathrow would start to consult on the detailed plans for the runway.

Heathrow Airport’s consultations close on the 28 March after a 10 week duration.

March 23, 2018