Here’s what you need to know
DAC Beachcroft, legal advisers to the consortium proposing an extended runway at Heathrow Airport, have written to Secretary of State Chris Grayling highlighting serious errors by the Department for Transport in the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) and indicating that it will likely be legally challenged under Section 13 of the Planning Act.
Section 13 allows for a Judicial Review of an NPS in the 6 weeks after it has been designated, following a vote in Parliament.
The extended runway is cheaper, simpler, quieter and quicker to construct than Heathrow Airport’s 3rd Runway proposal backed by the Government. In the NPS, due to be voted on by Parliament in the coming weeks, the Government has wrongly claimed an extended runway offers lower capacity of 700,000 movements compared to 740,000 for the 3rd Runway.
The mistake about capacity is one of the principal reasons why the DfT did not select the Extended Runway and why it has refused Heathrow Hub’s requests to include it in the NPS.
DAC Beachcroft has submitted a 21-page report to the DfT clearly demonstrating how the department failed to correct the Airports Commission’s mistake. This arose because the Commission, in response to HHL’s request, specifically confirmed the ENR scheme should be designed to increase Heathrow’s capacity from c.480,000 ATM’s (Air Transport Movements) today to 700,000.
Subsequently, in attempting to understand why the Commission believed Heathrow Airport Ltd’s NWR scheme delivered higher economic benefits and greater connectivity, it became clear that scheme had been assessed assuming a higher capacity – 740,000 ATM’s.
Since then both the Commission and the DfT have apparently ignored or misunderstood submissions, revised modelling and scheme developments by Heathrow Hub demonstrating its scheme can handle at least the same, and in fact almost certainly more capacity than NWR.
In May 2018 the DfT published a report by York Aviation into the Extended Runway. This was again based on old data and failed to take account of optimisations to the design, such as additional stands and taxiways.
A complaint previously made to the Competition and Markets Authority about the behaviour of Heathrow Airport Ltd is also ongoing.
Jock Lowe, director of Heathrow Hub, said: “Parliament is due to vote on the NPS in a couple of weeks and MPs should not vote for it. If they approve the NPS in its current form, there will be a judicial challenge soon after.
“The errors the DfT have made in relation to capacity are fundamental and explain why passengers and airlines are being saddled with Heathrow Airport’s expensive, complicated 3rd Runway instead of our cheaper, simpler, quieter plan.
“Chris Grayling should be under no illusion that, not for the first time, his department has bungled the details of a critical transport project. He should withdraw or amend the NPS before it is too late.”