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Heathrow consults on expansion plans as Johnson quizzed on expansion

21 June 2019

Heathrow Airport’s owners this week set out their plans for surface transport access to cope with the millions of additional passengers if the airport builds a third runway.

The airport has launched a consultation on its expansion plans ahead of submitting a Development Consent Order (DCO) application to the Planning Inspectorate next summer.

The surface access proposals are based on assumptions that air passenger numbers will rise from 78 million in 2017 to 115 million in 2030 and 135 million in 2040. Of these, non-transfer passengers are forecast to rise from 56.9 million (2017) to 78.2 million in 2030 and 91.8 million in 2040.

Employee numbers at the airport are forecast to rise from 72,700 in 2017 to 94,800 in 2039 and 95,900 in 2040. 

The Government’s airports National Policy Statement, which supports expansion, requires Heathrow to achieve a public transport mode share for passengers of at least 50 per cent by 2030 and 55 per cent by 2040. 

The surface access proposals are set out in a 330-page report. Heathrow is “fully supportive” of a southern and western rail access but adds that the mode share targets do not rely on the lines being built. 

For road access, the airport  is planning to introduce an ultra low emission zone by 2022, mirroring the central London ULEZ standards. 

Following the opening of the third runway (expected at the end of 2026) the ULEZ would be replaced by a vehicle access charge, applying to cars, taxis, and PHVs entering the airport. A charge of £11.50 (2017 prices) in 2030 is suggested.

For staff travel, the plan sets out proposals for a big increase in active travel and bus travel. 

This week Boris Johnson, the favourite to become the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister, appeared to indicate a softening of his stance against the airport’s expansion. Four years ago he pledged to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop a third runway.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard this week, he said: “I have grave concerns about the ability of the promoters of the third runway to meet their legal obligations on noise pollution and air quality. As you know, there are court cases underway.”

The paper said his answer suggested he would not try to block permission. It added: “Asked to confirm that he has promised Kent MPs in private that he has killed off his beloved Thames estuary airport scheme, which was supposed to be an alternative to Heathrow expansion, Mr Johnson’s face clouded into a picture of disappointment. ‘Suffice to say, that is not on the agenda,’ he said.”

A planning inquiry into the DCO is likely to start late in 2020 or early 2021. 

Consultation runs to 13 September.

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