A 12-week-long public consultation in respect of Heathrow’s proposed third runway begins today.
The Airport Expansion Consultation runs from 18th June until 13th September 2019. The consultation is a statutory obligation of any company that wishes to begin construction. Heathrow’s three-month event gives anyone who wishes to know more about its proposed expansion the opportunity to do so.
Responses from the public to Heathrow’s proposals will then inform the airport’s application for a Development Consent Order (DCO). The DCO is a planning consent required to grease the cogs of the project.
Heathrow’s DCO is expected to reach the desk of the Secretary of State for Transport next year. Airport expansion will begin shortly after the DCO has been granted.
Heathrow’s plan the future layout of the airport is forthright and ambitious but also controversial. The intention is to build a new runway northwest to southeast and then add other airport infrastructures such as terminals and car parks in phases. The most recent plans have come about after a preliminary consultation in the first quarter of 2018.
From the plans, the true scale of the project is clear. One of the biggest challenges will be the re-routing of the M25 which will pass through a tunnel beneath the third runway. The extent of the redevelopment will also see the re-routing of rivers, re-siting of utility installations and the compulsory destruction of housing.
Heathrow Airport intends to construct a third north-western runway by 2026. It hopes to complete all other works by 2050, according to its “masterplan”, reports BBC Online.
The present plans for the north-west runway and terminal buildings were approved by the UK Government in October 2016. But, bowing to parliamentary pressure in relation to the rising costs of construction, Heathrow unveiled a shorter runway option 2018.
The new runway is now to be 300 meters shorter than initially proposed, reducing costs by £2bn. However, this option would still require the M25 motorway to be moved 150 meters west and re-routed beneath the runway.
The Airport Expansion Consultation also reveals that over 750 homes are to be destroyed. According to the BBC, that includes the entire village of Longford which lies at the entrance to Tunnel Road East.
Heathrow has tried to lessen the blow to homeowners in the path of its expansion by promising to pay “full market value plus 25% for properties in its compulsory purchase zone”.
Homeowners can find out whether they are eligible for the order by checking their address on the consultation website.
Local and environmental groups have argued that expanding Heathrow and building a third runway would mean unacceptable levels of noise and pollution, and the loss of “great swathes of green belt”.
Concerns have also been raised about the environmental damage caused by 700 extra planes in the sky after 2026.
Robert Barnstone of Stop Heathrow Expansion told The Guardian,
“Not only does it want to disrupt people’s lives for up to 30 years while building this new runway but now proposes jumbo-size car parks while pledging to reduce the number of people using cars at the airport.
“The new prime minister, whoever that may be, will have to face up to the fact that Heathrow expansion cannot meet legal environmental requirements and will therefore not be able to proceed in the long term.”
Heathrow’s final plans, which will take into account all public responses, will be put to planning inspectors in 2020. Their recommendation will then be passed to the Transport Secretary for their final approval a year later.
The proposals are open to public consultation until 13 September.