Heathrow is the UK’s only hub airport and the UK’s biggest port by value for trade with countries outside the EU. Heathrow currently serves more than 200 destinations in more than 80 countries, connecting the UK to the world and the world to the UK.
It is not just passengers that travel through Heathrow; over £100bn worth of imports and exports with countries outside the EU were shipped through Heathrow in 2018, helping British businesses access customers in every corner of the globe.
But Heathrow’s existing runways are full and have been for over a decade. International airlines have grown their route networks at European airports like Paris and Frankfurt instead. These airports have capitalised on opportunities from new connections to growing economies in Asia and the Americas.
In this section we explain Heathrow as it is today, the background and the need for Heathrow expansion, and the consultations we have carried out so far. It also gives details on how you can provide us with your views.
Details on this consultation
We are now consulting on our preferred proposals for developing and operating an expanded Heathrow, including the effects of expansion and how we intend to manage them.
In this consultation we are seeking feedback on:
- Our Preferred Masterplan for expansion;
- Our plans to operate the future airport;
- Our preliminary assessment of the effects of the airport’s growth;
- Our plans to manage the effects of expansion.
Your feedback will help us to further refine our proposals before we submit our application for a DCO, planned for 2020.
This consultation is a statutory consultation being carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Planning Act 2008 and associated legislation and guidance. It is an important part of the planning process that applies to the Project. More information about the planning process can be found below and in the How do we obtain approval to expand Heathrow document.
For the flight paths for our three-runway airport, we are following the Civil Aviation Authority’s Airspace Change Process. This requires us to carry out ongoing airspace design work and stakeholder engagement to develop our flight path options.We are not consulting on airspace change as part of this consultation. For more information, please see our Airspace change page.
Before you start your response please visit “How to respond“.
Our previous consultations
As we prepare and plan for our airport’s growth, we are committed to working closely with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure we deliver the right final plan for expansion. Consultation is an important way for us to understand the views of a wide range of individuals and groups, helping us to carefully balance our plans to deliver a successful project and leave a positive legacy for the future.
We are committed to:
- delivering journeys that are simple and quick with the best service in the world;
- growing sustainably to create a lasting legacy for all of the UK, whilst reducing our effects on the environment and local communities;
- creating a values-led service culture with sustainability, diversity and respect at its heart;
- providing airlines and their customers with an affordable, efficient, sustainable and reliable airport; and
- making Heathrow an attractive global investment and securing Heathrow’s role at the heart of the British economy.
To date, we have undertaken two main consultations on our proposals for the expansion of Heathrow:
Airport Expansion Consultation One and Airspace Principles Consultation (January to March 2018)
During our first stage of consultation, we consulted on our emerging proposals and options for the expansion of the airport.
We called this ‘Airport Expansion Consultation One’. This was an opportunity for you to influence our thinking at an early stage, when options for various aspects of the Project were being considered.
At the same time, we also consulted on the principles we should apply when developing the new airspace design that will be needed for an expanded Heathrow. We called this our ‘Airspace Principles Consultation’.
Airspace and Future Operations Consultation (January to March 2019)
During our second stage of consultation, we consulted on our future operations and airspace changes for an expanded Heathrow.
We presented airspace design envelopes (the geographic areas where flight paths could be positioned in future) and asked you to comment on any local factors we should consider when designing new flight paths to and from Heathrow.
We also asked about the ways that we could operate the runways for an expanded Heathrow, including how we could provide breaks from aircraft noise through our initial proposals for runway and airspace alternation, along with how we should manage night flights in the future.
We have carefully considered all feedback received in response to our consultations as we have developed our proposals. We have also carried out engagement with the Heathrow Community Engagement Board (HCEB), the Heathrow Strategic Planning Group (HSPG), and many other stakeholders to help us develop and refine our proposals and our approach to consultation
The background to Heathrow expansion
In July 2015, the independent Airports Commission reported the conclusions of its three-year study examining the need for additional capacity to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub. It found that there is a need for additional runway capacity in the South East of England, and unanimously concluded that a new north west runway at Heathrow, combined with a package of measures to address environmental and community effects, presented the strongest case for meeting that need and offered the greatest strategic and economic benefits.
Government support and draft Airports National Policy Statement
In October 2016, following further review, the Government announced that it endorsed the Airports Commission’s recommendation, and backed a new north west runway at Heathrow. It also announced that an Airports National Policy Statement (Airports NPS) would be brought forward to provide policy for the preferred scheme, and that a draft Airports NPS
would be subject to public consultation and scrutiny by Parliament. National Policy Statements are put in place by Government to provide the policy framework for nationally significant infrastructure projects, such as the expansion of Heathrow.
In February 2017 the Government published and consulted on a draft Airports NPS. A revised draft of the Airports NPS was published for a second round of consultation later that year.
Designation of Airports National Policy Statement
In June 2018, following approval by Parliament, the Secretary of State for Transport designated the Airports NPS. The Airports NPS confirms policy support for a north west runway at Heathrow, and establishes the primary policy framework for deciding whether our proposals to expand Heathrow should be granted development consent. It also recognises the important role that the expansion of Heathrow has to play in supporting the wider UK economy.
We have developed our proposals to respond to this policy taking account of feedback that we have received in response to our consultations and our engagement with stakeholders. On this website, you will find information on our proposals to expand Heathrow and grow over the coming years.
What is a development consent order?
The Planning Act 2008 establishes the consenting process for nationally significant infrastructure projects (often referred to as NSIPs). NSIPs are projects considered to be so large and important that permission to build them must, by law, be given at a national level by a Secretary of State.
The construction or alteration of an airport falls under the Planning Act 2008 regime, where the proposed increase in passenger capacity would be at least 10 million additional passengers per year. Our proposed expansion of Heathrow will exceed this threshold and so is classified as an NSIP.
Our proposed diversion of the M25 is also classified as an NSIP for which the National Networks National Policy Statement is the principal policy document. Because our expansion proposals are NSIPs, we need to obtain development consent from the Secretary of State for Transport in the form of a Development Consent Order (often referred to as a DCO). A DCO is a piece of legislation (law) that combines consent to develop, operate and maintain a project, alongside a range of other approvals that would normally have to be obtained separately, such as listed building consent and environmental consents. A DCO can also contain powers for the compulsory acquisition and temporary possession of land.
We will submit our application for development consent (our DCO application) to the Planning Inspectorate, and an independent examining authority will then be appointed to examine it on behalf of the Secretary of State. During the examination stage, anybody with an interest in the Project can participate and make representations in writing or orally at hearings.
Once the examination is complete, the examining authority will submit a report and recommendation on the application to the Secretary of State for Transport, who will then make a decision on whether or not to grant the DCO.
For further information please see the How do we obtain approval to expand Heathrow document.
Where can I find information on previous consultations?
To find out information on previous consultations, please visit heathrowconsultation.com .
A summary of previous consultation responses and how they have been taken into account can be found in our two separate Consultation Feedback Reports:
Documents and other information
All of the documents associated with this consultation can be found in our Documents and Resources section.