Understanding the Planning Act 2008 process
The planning process for nationally significant infrastructure projects is governed by the Planning Act 2008. This also sets out the process for designating national policy to be used as a framework for considering nationally significant infrastructure projects, including a third runway at Heathrow.
National Policy Statement (NPS)
National Policy Statements (NPSs) set out the Government’s planning policy for various types of nationally significant infrastructure. NPSs for some types of infrastructure (such as roads and power stations) are already in place, but there is not yet a final NPS for new airport capacity.
The next step in the third runway process is a Government-led public consultation on a draft NPS for airports. The Government published its draft Airports National Policy statement (NPS) on 2nd February 2017 and launched a 16 week period of public consultation, running until 25 May 2017. It sets out the need for additional airport capacity, while explaining why the Government believes that this should be delivered by a north-west runway at Heathrow. You can read the draft NPS here.
The consultation includes a series of 20 local events, available for members of the public to attend. For more information on how to respond to the consultation, the events, and who to contact if you have any questions about the consultation, please visit the Government’s consultation website here.
Following the consultation period, the Government has stated that, assuming the decision is made to proceed, it expects to present its final NPS before Parliament for debate and an expected vote in the House of Commons by winter 2017-18. If accepted, the NPS will provide the planning policy that will apply to a third runway at Heathrow and set out the policy tests that the project must meet.
Development Consent Order (DCO)
The Planning Act 2008 requires Heathrow to submit an application for what is known as a Development Consent Order (DCO).
The Planning Act 2008 sets out the process we must go through to make the DCO application, and for the examination and determination of the application after it is submitted. This will include two extensive public consultations on our proposals before the application is submitted. The decision on whether to grant the DCO will be made by the Secretary of State following an examination by the Planning Inspectorate. The whole process is expected to take around 4 years.
You can find out more about the planning process from the Planning Inspectorate, including from their website – here.