Heathrow runway approved
Published: 06 Jun 2018

The cabinet has approved plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport in a move described by ministers as a "historic moment" for the UK. The plans were approved by the cabinet following initial approval by the government's economic sub-committee, chaired by Theresa May.

The plans to expand Heathrow's runway capacity have always been controversial, and in a bid to mitigate the impact of the new runway Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced £2.6bn in compensation for residents nearby who will be affected, as well as noise abatement measures.

In addition, the government has published a proposed Airports National Policy Statement, aimed at providing a framework for the expansion of the airport. That statement contains the specific planning requirements that applicants will need to meet in order to gain full development consent as well as detailing the assessments that need carrying out. This includes assessments regarding biodiversity and ecological conservation, green belt, landscape impacts, air quality, community compensation and community engagement.

Furthermore, Mr. Grayling has said that the final development consent for the runway will only be granted if the project will be delivered within existing air quality obligations.

Although the £14bn bill for the runway will be paid for privately, MPs have warned that taxpayers could pay for road infrastructure improvements around the airport, to deal with the expected increase in traffic, and have also warned that carbon emissions could increase as a result of the increased traffic.

Mr. 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."

Although the plans have received the backing of the cabinet, the relevant planning permissions have not yet been granted and planning details have not been fully approved. MPs will be asked to vote on the expansion plan by 11 July 2018. If all of the details are approved, the expansion could be complete by 2026.