The Airports Commission today published its assessment of the proposals for expanding Heathrow and Gatwick airports and opened its analysis for public consultation.
Members of the public are being invited to comment on the commission's assessment of the options short-listed last year, which include two for expanding Heathrow and one for Gatwick.
This includes analyses of cost, noise, property loss and construction, and the economic benefits and environmental impacts of each proposal.
Head of the commission Sir Howard Davies said: “Since our interim report last year we have undertaken a huge amount of work. We have carried out a thorough assessment, across a comprehensive range of subjects, looking at the benefits and impacts of each proposal.
“We have not yet taken a view on which proposal strikes the most effective balance between the assessment criteria. It is important first that we provide an opportunity for this evidence to be examined, challenged and improved. This consultation gives everyone with an interest in the issue of airport expansion that opportunity.
“Responses to this consultation will be a valuable addition to our evidence base and will directly inform our recommendation to the government when we publish our final report in the summer of 2015.”
The report says any expansion at Heathrow Airport would be 'adding development to an area that is already under environmental stress', but adds that for those within 5km of the airport, the impact would likely be neutral, with the positives, such as improved transport connections and added jobs, cancelling out the negatives, such as noise and congestion.
The consultation will run for 12 weeks, ending on February 3, 2015. The commission's final report is then due in the summer of 2015.
Rob Gray, campaign co-ordinator for the Back Heathrow campaign group, said: “Communities around Heathrow now face a clear choice. The Commission’s independent analysis shows expansion will create up to 41,000 jobs at Heathrow by 2030, but without growth there could actually be 14,000 fewer airport jobs.
“At the very heart of this national debate is whether or not there is local support for airport expansion. More than 50,000 local residents living in the communities surrounding Heathrow have already signed up to our campaign to grow the UK's hub airport. This figure is reinforced by polling that shows majority backing for Heathrow expansion in nine out of 10 parliamentary constituencies closest to the airport. At last this silent majority of supportive residents will be able to have their say on this vital issue.”
The commission has been tasked with finding the best option for where a new runway should be built to meet a rising demand for flights in south-east England.
The three options it is considering are a third runway at Heathrow, an extension to one of Heathrow's existing runways and a second runway at Gatwick.
Alternative proposals, including building new airports near Oxford or in Thames Estuary, have already been dismissed.
To take part in the consultation, visit www.gov.uk/government/organisations/airports-commission