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NEWS Last modified on February 2, 2017

UK government publishes proposals for third runway at Heathrow

According to the UK Department for Transport, Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has today taken a major step forward in preparing Britain for leaving the EU by publishing proposals for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

It states that a national public consultation begins today into "one of the UK’s most important infrastructure projects which will help build a Global Britain".

The DFT claims that planning policy proposals show this government is not only making the big decisions but getting on with delivering them.

"This will ensure Britain seizes the opportunity to forge a new role in the world after Brexit, supported by the right infrastructure," it says.

The statement continues: "On 25 October 2016, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed that the government’s preferred scheme for adding new runway capacity in the South East is through a new Northwest Runway at Heathrow Airport, in line with the recommendation made by the independent Airports Commission, and that the policy for this would be brought forward by way of a draft National Policy Statement (NPS) which would be subject to public consultation.

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"This move, taken for the country as a whole, will ensure Britain has the connections it needs to thrive in the global market, sending a clear signal that Britain is open for business, and we are creating an economy that works for everyone".

The government’s draft NPS, 'Airports National Policy Statement: new runway capacity and infrastructure at airports in the South East of England', lays down the planning policy framework which the applicant for a new Northwest runway would have to comply with in order to get development consent.

It also sets out the need for additional airport capacity in the South East and the reasons why a Northwest runway at Heathrow is the government’s preferred scheme.

An NPS is more appropriate for this proposed development because it provides clarity, is speedier and less costly to the taxpayer, notes the DFT.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Aviation expansion is important for the UK both in boosting our economy and jobs and promoting us on the world stage.

“Leaving the EU is a new chapter for Britain and provides us with a great opportunity to forge a new role in the world.

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"We are determined to seize that opportunity and having the right infrastructure in place will allow us to build a more Global Britain.

“By backing the Northwest runway at Heathrow airport and publishing our proposals, we are sending a clear signal that when we leave the EU, we are open for business.

“The National Policy Statement is a big step forward for what is one of the UK’s most important, major infrastructure projects.

"Now we want to hear your views on it. This is an important consultation and I encourage everybody to get involved across the country.”

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The draft NPS is now open to a 16-week extensive public consultation to ensure people have the opportunity to contribute their views.

According to the DFT, the Secretary of State for Transport will use the NPS as the basis for making decisions on any future development consent application for a new Northwest runway at Heathrow Airport. 

Although the NPS will apply to England only, given the national significance of a Northwest Runway at Heathrow, the Government is consulting across the UK. 

• Ed Anderson, chairman of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), welcomed today's news.

He said: “The decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow Airport and today’s draft National Policy Statement are first steps in the process towards ensuring the UK has the additional capacity it needs to help the country deliver, sustainably, the connectivity it requires in the future.

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"At this time of increased uncertainty following the EU referendum, we need to maintain momentum, remove uncertainty and ensure the UK gets the additional capacity it so vitally needs as soon as possible to demonstrate the UK is open for business and confident about its future.

“The AOA is also clear that the UK requires excellent aviation connectivity right across the country, both vibrant point-to-point airports and world-class hub capacity.

"That is why we welcome the Transport Secretary’s intention to set out in an Aviation Strategy how the UK can maximise the positive role the aviation sector plays in developing global trade links.

"To be a success, this Aviation Strategy needs to support all airports that wish to grow and also make better use of existing capacity. This should include better surface access to airports and a planning system with a presumption in favour of sustainable development."
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Briton's pilots have also welcomed today's announcement by the government.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots' Assocoation (BALPA) enthused: "We welcome the government’s confirmed commitment to expanding Heathrow as recommended by the Davies Commission. 

"Decisions – and actions – on expanding airport capacity are long overdue. 

"We are also pleased that the government has announced that it is preparing a new UK aviation strategy. Recognition of the role that aviation plays as a driver for the UK economy would be welcome.

“We also urge the Minister to ensure that the skilled and dedicated people, including pilots, who make our vital industry tick are not forgotten, and, indeed, are put at the heart of his new aviation strategy.”

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