Planning ahead for Heathrow expansion - what happens next?

Planning ahead for Heathrow expansion - what happens next?

Now that the government has stated its preference for a new runway at Heathrow Airport, John Hobson QC, a barrister at Landmark Chambers, discusses the planning procedure that lies ahead.

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What are the key aspects of the decision?

The government’s announcement, adopting the recommendation of the Airports’ Commission, is intended to reinforce Heathrow Airport’s role as the major hub airport in the UK. The government hopes that the expansion of Heathrow which the proposed new runway will enable, will bring forward wide economic benefits—both locally with up to 77,000 new jobs, and nationally amounting to £61bn benefits accruing. It is also claimed that it will benefit the regions by opening new routes and improving connectivity between London and the regional airports.

Most importantly, while declaring its preference for expansion with a new runway at Heathrow, the government’s announcement explains that the expansion will only be allowed to proceed on the basis of what is described as a ‘world class package of compensation and mitigation’. The proposed package includes a commitment to noise reduction including a proposal for a six and a half hour ban on scheduled night flights, more stringent night noise restrictions, ‘new legally binding noise targets’, a timetable of respite for those living under the final flight path, and a pledge to provide over £700m for noise insulation for residential properties.

Additionally, there will be a redesign of the airport’s flight paths, which will be a part of a wider programme of airspace modernisation which is already needed in view of the crowded airspace above the UK.

The most controversial aspects of the government’s intention to proceed with the expansion of

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