in Aerospace

Government's Airports NPS supports third Heathrow runway

Posted 5 June 2018 · Add Comment

Today ministers set out final proposals to back Heathrow expansion, with the Government publishing the proposed Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), backing its development through the creation of a new north-west runway.

Heathrow Airport skyline.
Courtesy Heathrow

Under the proposal, expansion will be delivered in a cost-efficient and sustainable way, with a comprehensive package of measures to support affected communities and protect the environment.

Heathrow will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer. To make sure expansion is delivered with consumers’ interests at heart, the government has asked the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure the scheme remains affordable while meeting the needs of passengers.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Expansion at Heathrow presents a unique opportunity to deliver a multi-billion pound boost to our economy, strengthen our global links and maintain our position as a world leader in aviation.

"As we leave the EU, the UK must remain one of the world’s best-connected and outward-looking countries and a third runway at Heathrow is the best option to deliver this.

"We have listened to views through our consultations and will ensure a world-class package of measures to help any local communities affected by the expansion."

The government has also announced the creation of a new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, which will be an independent expert voice on noise issues, acting as a link between airport operators, airlines and local communities. To protect the environment, development consent would only be granted on the basis that the new runway is delivered within existing air quality obligations.

Over the next few weeks Parliament will have the opportunity to debate and vote on the NPS.

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MPs are being urged to help secure Britain’s future as a global trading powerhouse by backing an expanded Heathrow, after the Government announced plans for a Parliamentary vote on the Airports National Policy Statement within weeks. 

Following recent letters to politicians from Britain’s major business groups and trade unions, Heathrow is writing to all MPs today to tell them how their votes would 'green light' the airport’s privately-funded expansion plans. The project is set to boost Britain’s economy by billions, open up to 40 new long-haul trading routes for Britain’s exporters, create tens of thousands of new skilled jobs across the country and lower airfares for passengers, at zero cost to the taxpayer. 

If successful the Parliamentary vote will be a major milestone for Heathrow expansion and if successful will set the policy framework for Heathrow’s northwest runway application. Heathrow is currently preparing to hold a second public consultation on its plans before submitting a development consent application to the Planning Inspectorate, kick-starting an 18-month approval process. 

Courtesy Heathrow

Commenting on the decision to table the vote, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye (above), said: "Together with our supporters across the country, we urge all MPs to vote for expansion. Their votes will connect all of Britain to global trade, increase competition and choice for passengers and create tens of thousands of new skilled jobs for future generations. The world is waiting for Britain. It's time to vote for Heathrow expansion.”

Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “It’s fantastic that the new runway at Heathrow is getting closer to take-off. All the more so as the United Kingdom has waited for nearly half a century for this decision.

“Expanding our aviation capacity, and creating new flight routes to rapidly growing markets, is mission critical to ensuring Britain can compete on the post-Brexit world stage.

“The new air links the runway will create will unlock growth and help create jobs at home, and enable more businesses – especially our many innovative and ambitious small and medium-sized ones – to export their goods and services to booming markets.

“Our aviation capacity is set to run out as early as 2025, so it’s crucial we get spades in the ground as soon as possible. From Southampton to the Shetlands, firms in all parts of the UK will be looking to their MPs to approve the National Policy Statement, giving a timely vote of confidence in Global Britain’s future.”

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey strongly urged MPs to vote for expanding Heathrow: “Heathrow expansion, one of the biggest construction projects in Europe, answers the demands of many Unite members across the UK – for more skilled, well-paid and sustainable jobs. Expansion will deliver these jobs and growth to every nation and region of the UK, whilst Heathrow deliver on the work they have been doing to address environmental concerns; all at a critical time for UK workers.

“I would strongly urge Members of Parliament to vote in favour of expansion at Heathrow.”

British Chambers of Commerce Director General, Dr Adam Marshall said: “Business communities across the UK want an end to decades of political indecision and an unequivocal green light for Heathrow expansion. A resounding vote for Heathrow expansion in Parliament would do more than just unlock this crucial infrastructure project, as it would give a huge boost to business confidence and investment at a time of significant change.”

Ed Thomas, UK head of transport at KPMG, said: “Today’s decision marks a pivotal moment for UK aviation. Now, more than ever, UK plc needs to demonstrate both its ability and willingness to connect to trading partners and investors in the rest of the world. This positive commitment to vital UK aviation infrastructure will send a strong message that we are open for business.

“The debate about new runways in the UK should never have been framed purely in terms of where to lay 3000 metres of concrete and tarmac. More fundamentally it is a debate about how we secure our future economic prosperity. Within a decade, over half of global growth will be driven by emerging economies, and the UK needs to make sure we are connected to that growth engine. How do we do that if London’s airports are full?

“Currently London is not directly connected to 128 of the biggest cities in the world and without additional capacity, this will deteriorate over time. It is forecast that by 2030, we will lack connections to 194 of the 309 cities that have populations of over two million. Of these 194 cities 16 will be in China and 15 in India, both leading emerging markets, which will power global growth. Our competitors already have connections to 41 of these cities.”

Ben Vogel, Editor, Jane’s Airport Review, said: "A number of Conservative MPs – for example, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – vehemently oppose a third runway for Heathrow. While Johnson may be persuaded to avoid the vote or abstain, to maintain a semblance of harmony with his fellow Cabinet members, there are many others with fuller freedom of action.

"Prime Minister Theresa May was always going to need support from the Democratic Unionist Party to avoid an embarrassing defeat, and the government may even try to attract pro-Heathrow expansion MPs from the opposition Labour Party. Labour officially supports a third runway with several environmental caveats – but the chance to inflict more damage on an already fragile government could be too attractive to miss.

"Expansion supporters have consistently insisted that there is no excuse for further prevarication, because the UK aviation sector and the broader UK economy pays a heavy price for delay.  They argue that Amsterdam Schiphol, Frankfurt, and Paris Charles de Gaulle – the three main continental rivals to Heathrow – are able to grow economically lucrative connections while Heathrow stagnates because it lacks capacity.

"Post-Brexit, they add, it is more important than ever to connect London to the global economy – unless Heathrow expands, by 2030 the UK capital will lack connections to 194 of the 309 cities worldwide with populations of more than 2 million.

"These arguments could swing the upcoming vote – but even after that, detailed planning permission must be approved; given the entrenched position of environmentalists, anti-Heathrow expansion politicians and local residents concerned about noise pollution and other aspects associated with growth at the UK hub, the road to the third runway will still be rocky.

"Heathrow has won this battle, but the war will go on."

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The government has also today committed to supporting all airports beyond Heathrow making best use of their existing runways, including those in the south-east, as long as they address economic and environmental planning issues.

Ken O’Toole, CEO of London Stansted Airport, said: “Ahead of the anticipated decision from Uttlesford District Council relating to our application to increase the airport’s limit on passenger numbers to 43 million per year, we welcome today’s statement from Government confirming its support for airports looking to make best use of existing capacity.

“It is vital for the UK economy that the country has the best possible aviation connections and that there is an urgent need to actively support airports, like London Stansted, that can deliver that access now.

“Over the last five years we have increased passenger numbers by nearly 10 million, doubled the number of airlines and secured six new services to the most popular destinations for passengers from the region including Dubai, New York, Boston, Toronto and Washington.

“Building on these successes, we are investing £600 million to improve the airport experience and have submitted a planning application to make best use of our single runway. This will unlock Stansted potential and enable us to serve up to 43 million passengers, deliver 50 percent of London’s expected passenger growth over the next decade and extend the choice of airlines and destinations we serve.”

Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport, said: “We welcome today’s statement from Government confirming its support for airports looking to make best use of existing capacity and agree that it is vital for the UK economy that the country has the best possible international connections

“Manchester Airport has demonstrated the role it can play in connecting the North to key overseas markets through the launch of services to the likes of Hong Kong, Beijing, San Francisco and Boston in recent years and the announcement of new routes to Africa and India in the past few weeks. Manchester is also serving as a second global gateway to the UK for investors and visitors.

“Building on these successes, Manchester Airport is investing more than £1bn in transforming its facilities and unlocking the spare capacity on its exiting two full-length runways.

“It is clear, therefore, that is has a vital role to play in meeting the UK’s demand for connections to global markets at a time when other major airports will have run out of capacity.

“Government must now match its support for a third runway at Heathrow with specific and practical proposals to maximise the potential of airports like Manchester in the period to 2030 – the earliest the third runway is likely to be delivered – and beyond that.

“This includes support for schemes like Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will dramatically improve access to the North’s primary international gateway and help secure dozens more direct long haul services to key overseas economies.”

Karen Smart, MD of East Midlands Airport, said: “We welcome the government’s commitment to unlock the potential of regional airports to make best use of existing capacity. It is vital for the UK economy that the there is support for airports like East Midlands that can deliver greater access to world markets.

“As the region’s global gateway, EMA plays a critical role in getting people and products to overseas markets. As the country’s busiest airport for dedicated cargo traffic, it is already a key driver of the UK economy.

“Further investment in the airport would help meet the demand for growing connectivity to global markets over the next decade at a time when other major airports will run out of capacity. This would benefit both the UK as a whole, and stimulate regional imports and exports and local business growth.

“The Government must now match its support for Heathrow with specific and practical proposals to maximise EMA’s global connectivity in the period to 2030, including support for better rail connectivity serving East Midlands Parkway, and backing regional transit infrastructure to link the proposed HS2 Toton to the airport.”

Chris Harcombe, Aviation Development Director, Doncaster Sheffield Airport said:  “We welcome the Government setting out final proposals and backing for the expansion of London Heathrow. It is very important for UK competitiveness to have a thriving and expanded global aviation hub in Heathrow.

"However it must come with balance for the rest of the UK through a clear government strategy to unlock existing aviation capacity in the regions and in turn stimulate economic growth locally.

"We have significant capacity available at DSA which can be realised with just one intervention, connecting the airport by rail to the East Coast Mainline, making it the only airport on a mainline along the east side of the country.

"Crucially a station at DSA would also be a catalyst for creating new employment opportunities, new housing, tourism and could serve a potential Heathrow Logistics Hub here at the airport. The station can be delivered in just five years, at a cost of £170m which represents a fraction of the cost of many nationally backed government schemes and will return to the economy of the North, £16 per for every £1 spent.”

Responding to the publication of the Airports National Policy Statement and the announcement by the Transport Secretary that the Government supports the best use of existing aviation infrastructure, Chief Executive of the AOA, Karen Dee said: “A global Britain requires connectivity to both established and emerging markets right across the country and thus needs both world-class hub and point-to-point capacity.

“The publication of the Airports NPS alongside the announcement that the Government supports all airports in their efforts to make best use of their existing infrastructure are important steps to help the country deliver, sustainably, the connectivity it requires in the future.

“The Government’s planned Aviation Strategy now needs to set out a clear framework for aviation growth across the UK, ensuring that airports have the capacity to better link communities and businesses with domestic and international markets. Better connectivity will drive inward investment, develop new trading opportunities, bring tourists to the UK and create jobs and economic growth in all parts of the UK as a result.

“In addition to today’s welcome announcements, this will require a roadmap for improved surface access, the modernisation of UK airspace as well as a presumption in favour of sustainable development of new capacity.”


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