Published: Thursday, 17th December 2015
The Government has announced it needs more time before it makes a decision on new airport capacity in south east England.
It has signalled that all three short-listed schemes originally proposed by the independent Airports Commission (two at Heathrow, one at Gatwick) remain in the mix.
The Commission’s final report had recommended a new third runway at Heathrow. Ministers have now signalled that a final decision won’t be made until at the earliest next summer.
Last week’ statement by the Government was careful not to endorse any of the three shortlisted proposals. It noted that the commission said all three were viable.
“The Government will undertake a package of further work on environmental issues”. The statement said it was anticipated that this would “conclude over the summer”.
It added: “The Airports Commission published a large amount of very detailed analysis on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions for their three shortlisted schemes. The Government faces a complex and challenging decision on delivering this capacity.
“The Airports Commission’s air quality analysis will be tested using the latest projected future concentrations of nitrogen dioxide.
“The next step is to continue to develop the best possible package of measures to mitigate the impacts on local people and the environment.
“This will include a package for local communities to include compensation, maximising local economic opportunities through new jobs and apprenticeships, and measures to tackle noise.”
Ministers have decided on the “mechanism for delivering planning consents for airport expansion”. Unlike HS2 this will not involve a hybrid bill.
Instead there will be an ‘Airports national policy statement’ (NPS). Then the scheme promoter will have to apply for a development consent order under the Planning Act 2008 regime for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs).