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As the Airports Commission’s final report reveals its chosen airport expansion scheme, Angus Walker, partner and head of the planning and infrastructure department at Bircham Dyson Bell, takes us through the important elements of this decision.
The Airports Commission final report recommends that of the three shortlisted options to build a third runway—the Gatwick second runway, the Heathrow extended northern runway and the Heathrow northwest runway—the construction of a new northwest runway at Heathrow is taken forward (a proposal made by Heathrow Airport Ltd) provided certain safeguards are put in place.
It does not recommend a particular consenting route, remaining neutral as to whether it should be introduced by hybrid bill in Parliament (like HS2) or a development consent order (like Hinkley Point C or the Thames Tideway Tunnel). Heathrow, however, said it favoured the latter.
The Commission considered:
It did not consider political deliverability (nor was it asked to)—and this is the issue which now faces the government.
Several mitigation proposals have been recommended:
Gatwick was considered to be a credible option, but the economic case for Heathrow was thought to outweigh it. The Commission thought that the type of routes that would be created at Heathrow, such as long-haul routes to new destinations was preferable to Gatwick which is more likely to have shorter-haul routes.
Despite saying in 2009 that the third runway at Heathrow was not going ahead ‘no ifs, no buts’, David Cameron is now committed to consider the Commission’s recommendation and decide what to do about it by the end of the year. The recommendation will most likely be challenged in the meantime by an anti-Heathrow campaign group or another airport company. The government also has to decide what method should be used to obtain consent to build the third runway either by way of a hybrid bill in Parliament or a development consent order, as stated previously.
Interviewed by Stephanie Boyer.
The views expressed by our Legal Analysis interviewees are not necessarily those of the proprietor.
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