A fresh round of consultation on the expansion of Heathrow has started and will run until December 19.
The consultation centres around the government’s new draft Airports National Policy Statement which was published in September.
It sets out an updated position on airport expansion in the light of new targets for both noise and air quality and policy changes since the independent Airports Commission backed the Heathrow project in 2016.
New Department for Transport reports have been produced looking at the environmental impact of the third runway.
The government believes that with the right mitigation measures the airport can expand while remaining within new limits set on noise and the environmental impact set out in emissions legislation.
The consultation had closed in May but has now been reopened to take account of the new policies.
Labour MP Ruth Cadbury, who is opposed to the expansion, has secured a debate in the House of Commons today in which the case against expansion will be debated.
The government says London’s airports are expected to hit full capacity by 2034 if there is no expansion.
It insists it is on track to publish final expansion proposals in the first half of next year ahead of a vote in Parliament.
After that a detailed planning application from Heathrow will go out to consultation with local communities and the airport hopes to start the four-year runway construction in 2021.
Zac Goldsmith, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group scrutinising the expansion and Conservative MP for Richmond Park, told the Daily Telegraph:
“Almost all aspects of the Airports Commission report, on which the Government’s position is based, have been fatally undermined.
“On economic benefits, passenger numbers, connectivity, economic benefits and on air pollution – the Commission’s findings have all had to be significantly revised – and in all cases worsening the case for expansion.”
However, Heathrow and the government, including transport secretary Chris Grayling, have said the new passenger forecasts show the case for expansion was stronger than ever.
Heathrow said expansion was “affordable, financeable and deliverable”, and insisted it would meet or exceed the conditions suggested by the Airports Commission to mitigate the impacts on local communities and the environment.
Southend airport used the news to reiterate its message that capacity should be increased at smaller airports.
Glyn Jones, chief executive the airport’s owners, Stobart Aviation, said: “Today’s news yet again casts doubt on whether there will ever be a third runway at Heathrow.
“We seem to be stuck in an endless cycle of the big two airports exchanging statistics which is getting us nowhere closer to solving the UK’s urgent capacity crisis while passengers and UK business suffers. At London Southend Airport, we can offer a different and better way with the opportunity to scale up to five million passengers per year while offering them a great experience.
“Passengers should be the focus and by better utilising smaller airports, it means we can start helping them today.”
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