Heathrow given list of rules for runway approval
The Government is set to publish its expectations for the airport once it undergoes expansion, including limits on night flights.
Heathrow will have to ban night flights and make legally binding promises to stick to environmental targets in order to get permission to build a third runway.
The Government will today unveil details of why it backed Heathrow over Gatwick and, crucially, what concessions it expects to get from Heathrow in order to earn approval for the plan.
Among these are a pledge to stop flights for a period of six and a half hours every night, as well as a commitment to hit noise targets and stick to existing limits on air quality.
The Government will also say that it expects Heathrow to add six more domestic routes across the UK by 2030, with Belfast, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside, Prestwick and Durham Tees all due to get regular services.
Announcing the launch of the document, known as the National Policy Strategy for Aviation, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling described aviation expansion as “important for the UK both in boosting our economy and jobs and promoting us on the world stage.
“Leaving the EU is a new chapter for Britain and provides us with a great opportunity to forge a new role in the world.
“By backing the Northwest runway at Heathrow airport, and publishing our proposals, we are sending a clear signal that when we leave the EU, we are open for business.”
He told Sky News that he was confident the airport could meet the noise limits because of a new generation of quieter aircraft and that even with expansion, within a decade Heathrow should be quieter.
The strategy paper will eventually set the ground-rules that Heathrow has to adhere to, and much of the focus will be placed on the environmental impact of the £16bn scheme.
The airport will have to retain existing air quality limits and continue to meet climate change obligations.
But it will also have to ensure that more than half the passengers coming to Heathrow will use public transport, and that there will be no increase in the amount of road traffic coming to the airport.
In many cases, these are targets that Heathrow has already pledged to meet, but already some are cynical.
Greenpeace’s UK executive director, John Sauven, said the Government was “in complete denial about the impacts of a third runway”, claiming it was inevitable that the project would worsen air pollution and reduce the chance of hitting climate targets.
The consultation process will last for 16 weeks, a month longer than the Government was obliged to set, and will be overseen by Sir Jeremy Sullivan, the former Lord Justice of Appeal.
Even if the process goes smoothly, it’s unlikely that building work will start before 2020, with the first plane scheduled to land on the new runway in 2025.
The Government has also started a consultation about how the UK’s entire airspace is managed, looking at the problem caused by aircraft noise across the country.
As part of those plans, the Government is also setting up a new group, to be called the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, which is intended to liaise between the industry and communities.