Launch day set for Statutory Consultation on Heathrow Expansion

A vision of Heathrow with its proposed 3rd runway. (HAL)

Heathrow has announced that its statutory 12 and a half-week consultation on its expansion plans will launch on June 18. The airport said: “This step is the latest delivery milestone for the critical national infrastructure project, and the responses received will feed into a final planning application.” To mark the news, the airport has released a series of new images showing an illustrative example of a new terminal infrastructure, as well as a panoramic shot of a future Heathrow.

The airport noted that its June consultation will be its “largest and most innovative engagement exercise yet”. Heathrow has invested in new technology to show the public its current proposals, including a model of the future airport which uses augmented reality, and a sound booth to be used at certain locations which features virtual reality to demonstrate the effect of noise insulation on properties overflown by aircraft. The airport said that having listened to feedback from previous consultations, it will be holding events in more locations than previously and, in addition to an extensive national publicity campaign across newspapers, radio, billboards, digital and – for the first time – Spotify, will be contacting 2.6 million households directly in the vicinity of the airport with a leaflet encouraging participation.

The upcoming consultation will seek feedback on four key areas:

  • Heathrow’s preferred masterplan for expansion: its proposals for the future layout of the airport including the runway and other airport infrastructure such as terminals and road access. The masterplan will also reveal the airport’s growth in phases – from runway opening in 2026, to the end masterplan in approximately 2050. This incremental growth in infrastructure will align more closely with forecast passenger growth, and help airport charges remain close to 2016 levels – ultimately resulting in more affordable fares for passengers.
  • Plans to operate the future airport: how the future three runway airport will be operated, including important elements such as night flights, as well as how potential additional flights before the new runway opens could be operated on its existing two runways.
  • Assessment of impacts of the airport’s growth: Heathrow’s preliminary assessment of the likely impacts of expansion on the environment and local communities.
  • Plans to manage the impacts of expansion: The airport will set out its plans for mitigating the effects of expansion, including property compensation, its Noise Insulation Policy, a Community Compensation Fund, and measures to mitigate against air pollution, carbon, and other environmental effects

Inviting people to participate in the consultation, Emma Gilthorpe, the airport’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.”

Following the conclusion of this consultation and after feedback has been incorporated, Heathrow said it will submit a final proposal to the Planning Inspectorate in 2020, kickstarting its approvals process. The decision on whether to grant the Development Consent Order will be made by the Secretary of State following a public examination period led by the Planning Inspectorate.