The planning process for Heathrow expansion has entered a new stage, as the airport launches a further public consultation.
For the next ten weeks, the airport will seek views on how to shape its plans so it can deliver the expansion while keeping to the promises it has made to local communities and meeting environmental tests.
Over the past year, Heathrow has been working alongside local stakeholders and airline partners to evolve the plans it submitted to the airports commission.
This engagement has identified options to deliver an expanded hub airport for £2.5 billion less than previous plans.
Options can be delivered without compromising on the expansion commitments Heathrow made to local communities, the airport argues.
Commitments include an acceptable property compensation scheme, the pledge to introduce a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled night flights, and the promise to only release new capacity if air quality limits can be met.
Seeing a possible end to the interminable process, the public consultation on expansion has been eagerly awaited by the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK.
Dale Keller, chief executive of BAR UK, said: “Heathrow expansion can massively improve resilience, reduce delays and stacking, and drive growth in the UK economy – but only if it can be delivered without passing increased costs and risk to passengers and airlines.
“It’s important to highlight that airlines and passengers demand a better and more affordable Heathrow – not just a bigger one.
“The simple fact is that passengers and airlines in the UK are already burdened the highest airport charges, and departure taxes, in the world, and any increase in costs will seriously undermine the UK’s global competitiveness.
“We look forward to consulting further with Heathrow Airport on the vital cost and risk reductions that remain conditional to gaining the support of the airline community before a parliamentary vote expected this summer.”
The new consultation will be composed of two parts – the first relates to the physical changes to the ground needed to build a new north-west runway and operate an expanded airport.
Feedback is being sought on potential infrastructure options including the three shortlisted options for the new north-west runway with length varying from between 3,200 and 3,500 metres.
Also on the agenda are potential locations to expand terminal infrastructure – east of Terminal 2, west of Terminal 5 or a new satellite terminal by the new runway – and the proposed alignment of the M25.
The airport is also asking for the public to review its plans to manage the effects of expansion on local communities and the environment.
The second part of the consultation relates to potential principles, or ‘rules’, that could apply when designing the new airspace required for an expanded airport.
Airspace across the country is being modernised as it has changed little since the 1960s.
Changes to airspace will ultimately improve resilience and punctuality for passengers while reducing noise, emissions, and the number of late-running flights for local communities.
At this early stage, future flight path options are not being consulted on.
Responses can be submitted until the March 28th at any of the 40 consultation events held across communities surrounding the airport and also online, via email or post.
Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow executive director, expansion, invites local residents and stakeholders to take part in the consultation.
She said: “When the government announced its support for Heathrow expansion it made a clear commitment to keeping Britain open for business.
“We want an expanded Heathrow to be the world’s best airport, ensuring that our country and its future generations have the infrastructure they need to thrive.
“We need feedback to help deliver this opportunity responsibly and to create a long-term legacy both at a local and national level. Heathrow is consulting to ensure that we deliver benefits for our passengers, businesses across the country but also, importantly, for those neighbours closest to us.”