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Economy Economy

Continue investment in the expansion of Heathrow Airport

Last updated: 12:20pm 29 October 2019

We will continue our programme of strategic national investments, including […] the expansion of Heathrow Airport…

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.23

Our verdict

According to the Department for Transport, demand in the London airports system will outstrip capacity over the next ten years, with adverse effects on the UK economy and global competitiveness. So, in September 2012, the government established the Airports Commission to explore ways to increase capacity. The Commission identified a Northwest Runway at Heathrow Airport as the proposal with the strongest case, and the government laid the groundwork for planning.  This policy is a promise to keep investing in the Heathrow expansion project.

In June 2018, the government published the Airports National Policy Statement, setting out the policy framework and procedure for the Heathrow expansion, and allowing the airport management to submit a formal planning application.

Since then, as part of the planning process, the airport owners, Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited, have run a set of consultations covering:

  • Jan 2018 – Mar 2018. Planning, operations, compensation and noise insulation.
  • Jan 2019 – Mar 2019. ‘Airspace Future Operations’, including future flight paths design.
  • Jun 2019 – Sep 2019. Layout, infrastructure and management of effects on local communities.

Heathrow is due to submit an application to the Planning Inspectorate.

Boris Johnson’s opposition to a third runway at Heathrow has been well documented, but since becoming Prime Minister he has not reversed this policy.

There have been several legal challenges to the planned expansion of Heathrow and at the time of writing the Court of Appeal is hearing challenges from environmental groups, local authorities and the London mayor.

The Airports National Policy Statement builds on previous work to advance Heathrow expansion. We consider this policy ‘done’. Things could still change. We’ll keep tracking the outcome of the legal challenges, so follow this policy to stay up to date.

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