Heathrow has announced it will meet and, in most cases, seek to exceed the conditions set out in the UK Airports Commission’s recommendation for expansion.
In July last year, the independent Airports Commission recommended expanding Heathrow, after a three year, £20 million study into the best option for maintaining the UK’s global aviation hub status.
Today, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye has written to prime minister David Cameron setting out an ambitious and affordable plan which balances the huge national and local economic gain from expansion with the environmental impacts.
Highlighting Heathrow’s place as a “cornerstone” of Britain’s economic security for the last 70 years and a symbol of an outward looking country,
He said: “You set up the Airports Commission and it unanimously recommended expanding Heathrow.
“You demanded ambitious plans from my team to deliver expansion with a bold and fair deal for our neighbours.
“Today, I am proud to submit a comprehensive plan that meets and exceeds your demands.
“This is a big commitment from us, but it is the right choice for the country, local communities and jobs across Britain.
“We have acted now to let you and your government make the right choice, in the long term interest of our country.
“It will enable you to choose Heathrow and secure a stronger economy and Britain’s place in the world.
“Expanding Heathrow can help Britain win thousands more jobs and ensure that future generations have the same economic opportunity that we have enjoyed.”
Heathrow is committed to working with airlines to deliver an expanded Heathrow that is affordable for passengers and airlines, whilst giving the fairest deal to local communities.
Its formal response to the Commission include the introduction of a ban by government on scheduled flights for six and a half hours between 23:00 and 05:30 – an increase from five hours today - and supporting the earlier introduction of the ban after planning consent is received and the necessary airspace has been modernised.
Heathrow presented a proposal for the Environment Agency to be given the role of an independent aviation air quality authority, to provide transparent scrutiny of the measures Heathrow will introduce to enable it to expand only in accordance with air quality rules.
However, rival Gatwick Airport has responded to Heathrow’s announcement today by reasserting that Gatwick remains the only expansion plan that can actually deliver for the UK.
Gatwick will provide the same growth and the same benefits that the UK has been waiting decades for without the noise impacts of Heathrow, without breaking air quality limits, at half the cost and with no public subsidy.
Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “This is a desperate last throw from a project that has repeatedly failed.
“Heathrow’s air quality plans, for example, fail the most basic credibility test.
“You can’t promise no more cars with a third runway and at the same time to propose to expand the M25 and plan to spend millions on parking.
“Heathrow has constantly failed the environmental tests and the public and politicians won’t be fooled by yet more warm words which have been heard for decades.
“Rather than circling around a failed solution that will never happen, we should get on with something that can actually happen - only Gatwick can deliver for the UK.
“Heathrow can promise many things but they cannot wish away the reality of its location.
“An expanded Heathrow will newly impact hundreds of thousands of people currently not affected by aircraft noise - an expanded Gatwick would impact less than three per cent of this number.”
A decision on expansion in the south-east of England is expected, finally, this summer.