The Airports Commission was set up by the Government in 2012 to examine the need for additional UK airport capacity and to make recommendations on the timing and location of any new runway in the South East.
The Commission, chaired by the economist Sir Howard Davies, carried out a very thorough investigation over 3 years, involving public consultations, evidence sessions and site visits. In July 2013 we submitted a number of proposals to the Commission for a new runway at Heathrow airport, alongside a diverse range of alternative proposals submitted by other airports and organisations.
Our runway proposal to the north west of the airport was shortlisted in December 2013 as one of three options in the Airport’s Commission’s Interim Report. The other shortlisted options were a second runway at Gatwick and an extended northern runway at Heathrow, the latter a proposal put forward by a company called Heathrow Hub.
We subsequently carried out two extensive public consultations on our proposals in 2014, one on our North West Runway proposal and the other on the principles of any mitigation and compensation proposals that we might introduce. The feedback we received led to a number of beneficial changes to reduce the impact of our proposals, including moving the proposed runway further south, as well as outlining our proposals for a generous and extensive noise mitigation and compensation package.
Following further consultation and analysis, the Commission issued its final report on 1 July 2015, making a unanimous and unambiguous recommendation to Government that Heathrow was best placed to provide the additional hub capacity that the UK urgently needed.
Since then, we have confirmed that we will meet and, in most cases, exceed the conditions set out in the Airports Commission’s recommendations for Heathrow’s expansion. Measures include support for an early introduction of a ban on scheduled flights for six and a half hours every night once development consent is received and the necessary changes to airspace have been made. You can check the press release here.
On 25 October 2016, the Government confirmed that Heathrow is its preferred option for expansion of airport capacity in the South East. This means there is now a clear direction from Government that allows Heathrow to further develop its plans for a new runway. The Government is now expected to put in place a National Policy Statement during 2017/18 in order to establish the necessary policy framework against which our third runway proposal will be considered and consented.
You can read about the Airports Commission process in more detail by visiting the Airports Commission website.