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!