Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, writing exclusively for getwestlondon and getsurrey, sets out his vision for the Heathrow Airport expansion and why you should respond to the consultation.
A year ago, the government announced our support for a new northwest runway at Heathrow Airport. We did so because expanding Heathrow would create over 100,000 local jobs and 5,000 new apprenticeships.
It would keep Britain’s businesses connected to the world. And it would address congestion and delays for passengers. I am therefore pleased that the government remains on track to publish final proposals on airport capacity in the first half of 2018, ready for a vote in Parliament.
First, though, we want to give people an opportunity to have their say on our proposals, in light of new evidence. That new evidence includes updated aviation passenger forecasts and the government’s national Air Quality Plan.
On October 24 we launched a new consultation on the gov.uk website, and it runs until December 19 2017.
Crucially, the newly-updated passenger forecasts show the need for an extra runway to be even greater than originally thought. Passenger numbers are growing much faster than we expected even a few years ago.
We can now expect all five of London’s biggest airports to be completely full by the mid-2030s, and four of them within 10 years. Without action, passengers will face more delays, congestion, and higher fares. And our communities and businesses will lose out on the economic benefits of expansion.
As well as boosting the case for extra airport capacity in the south east, the new forecasts also reinforce the case for expansion at Heathrow.
Crucially, they show that the northwest runway scheme at Heathrow is the one which, compared to the other shortlisted schemes, delivers the greatest benefits soonest.
In addition, it continues to offer the greatest choice in terms of destinations and frequency of vital long-haul routes. Heathrow handles more freight by value than all other UK airports combined and it has superior connections to the rest of the UK through road, rail and domestic flights.
The proposed new runway could be delivered in accordance with carbon and air quality obligations. Importantly, it would be accompanied by a world-class package of measures to limit the effects on local communities.
The package includes above-statutory levels of compensation for the purchase of the most affected properties, as well as a pledge of more than £740m to insulate nearby homes, schools and community buildings from noise.
The draft Airports National Policy Statement – the document that sets out the proposed planning policy for expansion at Heathrow –requires the creation of a Community Compensation Fund which could be worth up to £50m per year, specifies that new binding noise targets should be set, and proposes a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled night flights.
I understand that not everyone agrees with the government’s preferred scheme, but that is why it is so important for people to make their views heard.
Thanks to our consultation earlier this year on the draft Airports National Policy Statement, we are already reviewing over 70,000 submissions. Before presenting any final proposals to Parliament we want to consider carefully what people tell us, including views formed on the basis of the newest evidence.
That is how we will develop the best possible proposals, and that is why we have decided to hold this consultation. I invite people to respond.
You can respond to the consultation by visiting the website , where you can also view the documents. The consultation closes on Tuesday, December 19.
Mr Grayling's office approached getwestlondon and he was not paid a fee for this article.