Heathrow expansion gets the go ahead

Friday 04 November 2016

The Government has decided to expand runway capacity at Heathrow Airport despite widespread disagreement even amongst MPs from the same parties.

Heathrow won out against the alternatives on the cards, the main ones being Gatwick Airport expansion and a Thames Estuary 'Island' airport favored by Boris Johnson. 

The Government claim that the new runway at Heathrow will deliver:

  • economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61 billion over 60 years
  • lower fares relative to no expansion, fewer delays, better connections to destinations including to Asia and South America
  • up to 77,000 additional local jobs created by 2030
  • Heathrow have committed to 5,000 new apprenticeships by 2030
  • an extra 16 million long haul passenger seats in 2040
  • 6 new regional routes proposed by Heathrow – giving 14 in total
  • following consultation a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights will be introduced for the first time at Heathrow
  • a mitigation package for the local community most affected by expansion worth up to £2.6 billion

However, major concerns remain over air quality and pollution, which might not even meet current EU regulation and how the new runway will affect local communities. One of the main concerns from local residents is how they will be compensated for the upheaval. People will be displaced from their family homes due to demolition. 

On the matter of compensation, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "...we have made clear that expansion will only be allowed to proceed on the basis of a world class package of compensation and mitigation worth up to £2.6 billion, including community support, insulation, and respite from noise – balancing the benefits and the impacts of expansion.

Mark Hayward, Managing Director of NAEA, commented on the Government’s decision: “Today’s decision by the Government is likely to have a negative impact on house prices in the immediate vicinity of Heathrow.

However, alongside today’s announcement, the Government has also released details of a fresh consultation, while the threat of judicial review still remains high. This means homeowners that will be impacted by the extra runway should not rush into making knee-jerk decisions, as they have time to assess their options.

“In addition, the Government has confirmed that homeowners facing compulsory purchase will receive 125% of full market value for their properties, plus stamp duty, legal fees and moving costs.

While a person’s home is much more than bricks and mortar, it is vital that the Government honours this commitment to ensure that those impacted are offered some financial security for the years ahead.”

Perhaps we should also give a thought to the local residents who live in homes that aren't close enough to be eligible to benefit from the compensation scheme but live within close enough proximity to be effected by all the negative aspects that the new runway will bring.  

What now?
The government will launch a public consultation on the local impacts of its decision next year but it is also highly likely that campaigners including local authorities, Greenpeace and residents against the runway will fight the decision and build a case for judicial review.