Heathrow expansion plans set for public consultation

CGI image shows what an expanded Heathrow could look like.

Heathrow Airport has announced that a statutory 12-and-a-half-week consultation on its expansion plans will launch on 18 June. The airport says this is the “latest delivery milestone for the critical national infrastructure project,” and that the responses received will feed into a final planning application. 

Heathrow also says this new consultation will be its “largest and most innovative engagement exercise yet,” holding events in more locations than previously and, in addition to an extensive national publicity campaign across newspapers, radio, billboards, digital and Spotify, will be contacting 2.6 million households directly in the vicinity of the airport with a leaflet encouraging participation.

The consultation follows the High Court’s dismissal earlier this month of legal challenges against Heathrow expansion, with the airport claiming that the debate on its plans “has been had and won, both in parliament and now in the courts.”

However, the plans for Heathrow’s expansion are set to meet strong opposition from environmental campaigners, including a legal challenge from Friends of the Earth, with the campaign group's chief executive Craig Bennett claiming that “expanding Heathrow is wrong on every level and we can’t let it go.”

The upcoming Heathrow consultation will seek feedback on four key areas: 

  • Heathrow’s preferred masterplan for expansion
  • Plans to operate the future airport
  • Assessment of impacts of the airport’s growth
  • Plans to manage the impacts of expansion

Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director for expansion, said: “Heathrow’s expansion is a project of huge national and local significance, and it is critical to our country’s economic growth.  An expanded hub airport will allow the country to access more of the world, create thousands of jobs locally and nationally and it will open up new trading routes. But we can’t deliver these plans alone. We urge everyone to have their say in this consultation, to shape our plans, and to help us deliver expansion in the fairest and most sustainable way.”

However, Friends of the Earth have already confirmed that they will appeal this month’s High Court decision to dismiss the climate case against a third runway at Heathrow. Its chief executive Craig Bennett said: “We are in an ecological and climate emergency and parliament have supported an outdated decision to chase climate-wrecking development. We are going to continue this fight because it’s about more than a runway, it is actually about a future fit for our children.”

Following the consultation, Heathrow will submit a final proposal to the Planning Inspectorate in 2020. The decision on whether to grant the DCO will be made by the secretary of state following a public examination period led by the Planning Inspectorate. 

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