CAA say longer planning and construction period required to reduce upfront costs
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced that it expects the third runway to open by 2029, subject to planning permission, rather than the original target of 2026, as a longer planning and construction period was needed to reduce upfront costs.
The CAA has denied a request by Heathrow to lift spending from £650m to £2.4bn before planning permission was granted for expansion. They were concerned that these cost would have to be met by passengers if the expansion was not approved.
The airport now expects to complete a third runway between 2028 and 2029 as apposed to the early target of 2026 which had been described by an independent surveyor as an 'aggressive schedule'.
Paul Smith, group director of consumers and markets at the CAA, said: "Passengers cannot be expected to bear the risk of Heathrow Airport Limited spending too much in the early phases of development, should planning permission not be granted."
A Heathrow spokesperson responded, "The CAA's announcement is an important milestone in expanding Heathrow and connecting all of Britain to global growth. It increases certainty for our local communities and for the job creation, increased trade and lower airfares that expansion delivers.
"We will now review the detail to ensure it will unlock the initial £1.5 – 2 billion of private investment over the next two years at no cost to the taxpayer. Whilst this is a step forward, the CAA has delayed the project timetable by at least 12 months. We now expect to complete the third runway between early 2028 and late 2029."
Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said, “Even the regulator is losing confidence in Heathrow's ability to finance this runway. Heathrow previously declared their 3rd runway would cost £14bn. But now, just 18 months later, they tell us that they'll have to spend one and a half billion of this before they even apply for planning permission!
“As financial experts have advised us, Heathrow seems to be flying by the seat of their pants on this expansion – unable to determine how much they'll need to invest, let alone the source of that investment capital.
“Government should immediately halt this project, before taxpayers inevitably find themselves underwriting the irresponsible and vain aspirations of this foreign owned private company.”
December 20, 2019