Airports National Policy Statement Contents

4Policy gaps to support Heathrow expansion

81.Some of the risks identified in this inquiry arise from gaps in the current aviation policy framework; this is particularly applicable to the airspace risks we have identified. While airspace changes may be deliverable from a technical or safety point of view, the political reality is that substantive airspace change has been notoriously difficult to achieve and is why nothing of substance has occurred since 1974.157 For these changes to be delivered, and for the full benefits of the Government’s preferred scheme to be realised, substantial policy backing is required to set in place the necessary airspace change policy levers to resolve the likely community and commercial conflicts that come with this delivery. We recommend that Government outline its intended policy approach to delivering airspace change for its preferred scheme as a matter of priority. We acknowledge the helpful work that the Government has already done through its 2017 airspace consultation and we recommend that the Government, in coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority and NATS, develop a clear approach as soon as possible.

82.A suite of other policy measures is required if the NWR scheme is to be delivered effectively, namely with respect to air quality, carbon, surface access and noise, several of which are identified in this report. The Government must look at these and other areas of policy risk that may stop a runway in the South-East being built and delivering the additional capacity that is needed by 2030. We encourage the Government to adopt a more integrated approach to the delivery of runway capacity. The NPS may not be the appropriate instrument to resolve all these issues, but they should be resolved as a matter of priority. We cannot wait for several years of consultation on an aviation strategy to be completed without having clarity on some of these issues. We recommend that the Government act immediately to identify, develop and implement the necessary policies needed to provide confidence that issues, such as airspace, air quality, surface access and noise, will be dealt with in a timely manner in anticipation of a development consent order being made.

83.In a best-case scenario, a scheme is not going to be delivered until 2026. Evidence suggests that there is still room to grow,158 not just in London, but across the country. We cannot waste the opportunity to facilitate growth when capacity is sitting idle in other parts of the country. There is a need for Government to focus on ways to make best use of existing airport capacity to foster sustainable growth in the aviation sector between now and when new runway capacity becomes available in the South-East. The NPS acknowledges this need159 but provides very little by way of policy support to ensure capacity is maximised in the interim. Some viewed the current NPS as too Heathrow centric.160 We acknowledge the useful work Government is doing on the aviation strategy but there a considerable lag between now and it being drafted and implemented. We recommend that the Government, in the immediate period after an NPS is designated, launch a specific policy consultation, looking at the best ways to maximise existing airport capacity across the whole of the UK. It may be prudent for the Government to consider how issues of air quality and surface access for other UK airports can be addressed in this broader strategy.

157 Q654

158 See Annex A for discussion.

159 Department for Transport, Revised Draft Airports National Policy Statement, p 11

160 Q133, Q600

Published: 23 March 2018