Heathrow Airport: Government rejects calls to review support for a third runway


Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed in a letter that it is still government policy to pursue a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Campaigners used a legal mechanism to formally ask the government minister to review the plans due to the impact of recent events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate emergency declaration.

Mr Shapps’ letter published today (Monday, September 6) does not mean that the runway will definitely be built.

Heathrow Airport still needs to submit planning applications, complete a public inquiry and convince Parliament to formally approve the project which is like to take several years if successful.

It does mean that the government does not plan to block this process though.

Mr Shapps dismissed the campaigners’ request on various grounds including noise, air quality, post-Covid travel, costs, health, disadvantages to the existing Heathrow Airport, growth at other airports and climate change.

READ MORE:Grant Shapps’ commute in and out of London was so dreadful it made him change everything

Under current proposals, the M25 would be put in a tunnel and the new runway would be built on top of it.
Under current proposals, the M25 would be put in a tunnel and the new runway would be built on top of it

The year 2030 appears prominently in Mr Shapps’ letter. The Airports Commission in 2015 said that the South East needed an extra runway by 2030.

The Cameron and May governments believed that Heathrow would be the best location for the additional tarmac given its status as an international hub and its already highly concentrated flight schedule.

In 2018, this was set out in a policy document called the ANPS – Airports National Policy Statement.

The Boris Johnson government maintains this can still be done reasonably despite Article 4 of Paris Agreement meaning 68 per cent of UK’s 1990 emissions levels must be cut by 2030.

Prime Minister Johnson, who is the MP for neighbouring Uxbridge, was opposed to the third runway saying he would “lie down… in front of those bulldozers” during his time as the Mayor of London.

His government is now protecting the policy which would see those very bulldozers come into action.

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In the letter, Shapps says: “It is not appropriate to review the ANPS on the basis of climate change or carbon policy at this time.”

He does concede that he may have to review it should the currently under consultation ‘Government Jet Zero Strategy’ to bring down emissions from planes indicate that airport expansion should be revised. The consultation for that strategy closes on Friday and results are not expected until the end of the year at the earliest.

Regarding the pandemic, he adds: “It is too soon to be able to determine what the effect of the pandemic will be on the longer term aviation demand upon which the ANPS is predicated.

“The impact of COVID-19 on aviation passenger demand will continue to be monitored by the Department and it is intended that medium to long-term forecasts will be produced as and when the data is available, and the outlook is more certain. “

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If the third runway plans finally get approved, a Terminal 6 would be built and the villages of Longford, Harmondsworth and Sipson would either disappear or be relocated.

Heathrow Airport lost it’s number 1 European airport title to Frankfurt due to the pandemic and withdrew its subsidies of local bus services. The airport’s expansion is seen as one way of helping it regain the crown and boost employment and economic activity in West London.

The government is holding a climate summit in Glasgow on behalf of the United Nations in Glasgow, called COP26, this November.

For all the latest stories on Heathrow Airport’s Third Runway, head to our dedicated page here.

If you have a transport story you think MyLondon should be reporting, email callum.marius@reachplc.com





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