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Ministers back Heathrow expansion but MPs still to vote


Ministers have backed the creation of a third runway at Heathrow Airport – meaning MPs will vote on the proposals within weeks.

The government today published the long awaited Airports National Policy Statement, which will act as the basis for planning decisions on the expansion scheme.

It comes after the Cabinet agreed to support the controversial project, part of a £16 billion expansion being led by Grimshaw and Benoy.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: ’Expansion at Heathrow presents a unique opportunity to deliver a multi-billion pound boost to our economy, strengthen our global links and maintain our position as a world leader in aviation.

’As we leave the EU, the UK must remain one of the world’s best-connected and outward-looking countries and a third runway at Heathrow is the best option to deliver this.

’We have listened to views through our consultations and will ensure a world-class package of measures to help any local communities affected by the expansion.’

It is almost three years since the Airports Commission recommended the construction of an extra runway at Heathrow, claiming it was the best option for meeting increased demand for air travel in the South East and would deliver up to £147 billion for the economy.

Two years ago the government said it backed the commission’s report, and last October Grayling said the case for Heathrow’s expansion was ‘as strong as ever’ as he published a consultation on the revised draft Airports National Policy Statement.

However, the Commons vote could still disrupt the project. Heathrow said it was writing to all MPs today to encourage them to ‘green light’ the airport’s expansion

Heathrow chief executive John Holland Kaye said: ’Together with our supporters across the country, we urge all MPs to vote for expansion. Their votes will connect all of Britain to global trade, increase competition and choice for passengers and create tens of thousands of new skilled jobs for future generations.’

In 2015, Grimshaw won a competition to draw up designs for a ‘hub airport of the future’. Benoy later joined the team.

Tom Cartledge, Benoy’s chief executive officer, said last year: ‘We are committed to seeing Heathrow continue to become a fully integrated and sustainable airport which will drive innovation and showcase the best of British design and can’t wait to get started.’


Kim Cohen, Partner at Barton Willmore

This has been a long time coming and we welcome this key step. Of course, while Parliament still needs to ratify this, we would very much hope this is a quick and decisive process given the scrutiny it has already been given through the Davies Commission and the extensive consultations that followed.

There has always been a consensus that there is a pressing need to increase airport capacity and Heathrow has been identified as the preferred option. There are many that would argue, and not without considerable merit, that a third runway at Heathrow should be the starting point and not the end. Increased capacity at other airports must surely follow. For now though, the task is to deliver on the decision that has been made.

’The task for politicians is to ensure that the whole country can benefit quickly and effectively’

Opportunities and benefits, both economic and social, are significant to say the least. The (hopefully) swift expansion of Heathrow as the hub airport will of course provide huge opportunities and not insignificant challenges for the immediate Thames Valley; and through the inevitable associated national infrastructure projects and improvements will be the catalyst for national and regional growth – growth that the UK’s regional airports can contribute to as economic growth hubs.

The task for politicians, leaders and professionals is to ensure that the whole country can benefit quickly and effectively. This is just the start of the journey and the extensive network of planning, design and engineering experts in the UK are ready to assist. Let’s go!



Readers' comments (4)

  • It’s now afternoon, and Grayling has now confirmed what many people feared.

    This a complete and utter shorted sighted mistake. How long before Heathrow demands another runway, to make 4 to cope with demand post 2025? Heathrow cannot be connected to high speed and European rail. What about the noise, pollution and health hazards created by the extra planes and surface transport? What about the additional risk of terrorist action on incoming flights, potentially destroying Hounslow or Windsor!

    Solution: Expand Gatwick to 2 runways immediately. Expand Stansted to 4 runways over the next 25 years with connectivity to HS1 and HS2(if built?!). Connect Stansted, London City and Gatwick with a Crossrail 3. Redevelope Heathrow as a Garden suburb with at least 25,000? new homes. The rail links to Central London have already been built, as have the shopping, sports centres, schools and universities (currently airport terminals)

    This will produce more sustainable expansion, more jobs and more housing. It just needs support from the more forward thinking and creative politicians from the left, centre and right? Stand up Jeremy, Zak and Boris.

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  • MacKenzie Architects

    They are acting as if it's a greenfield, brand new site. If that's the case, why didn't they put it somewhere that made sense ...

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  • Kim Cohen seems to know as much about infrastructure as Howard Davies! Our foremost international airport has been in the wrong place for at least 50 years, and no one has had the foresight or courage to move it to a place where it can be expanded, or connected to other transport modes such as rail and sea!

    A third runway at Heathrow will be too little, too late, and leading us up the wrong path. It will disrupt the busiest motorway interchange in Europe for years, and the subsequent fourth runway will be even more disruptive and expensive?! Possibly the only event that can stop this air crash is a real air crash. One that wipes out Hounslow or Windsor!

    What happened to the ability to develope new and inventive solutions to our environmental and transport problems, like the sewers of Bazalgette, the new towns of Ebenezer Howard, the railways of Brunel, and Concorde and the Channel by French and British engineers in the 20th Century?

    Now is the time to put a spanner in the works before we waste more time and money on Heathrow? Read my last comment for a different solution to the capacity and environmental problem of this coming decade.

    And start today on a second runway at Gatwick. At no cost!

    And Barton Wilmore can start designing the new housing in Heathrow Garden suburb, something they are very good at?!

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  • It's tempting to welcome a third runway just to see the Foreign Secretary squashed, but in the real world there are surely some hard questions to be asked about the claims that lack of extra capacity will cause the country untold economic harm.
    Really? - given that there are three other London airports?
    How many people from outside the London area think it's vital to be able to transit through Heathrow to other parts of the world when it's just as convenient (sometimes more so) to fly via Amsterdam, Paris or Frankfurt?
    And why should Heathrow be expanded just to feed transit traffic?

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