The Government’s plans for a new runway at Heathrow airport should only go ahead with additional safeguards to protect the interests of passengers and address adverse environmental, social and health impacts, MPs have said.
In a new report on the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), the Transport Select Committee said Parliament should approve the document, but only after the Government addresses its concerns.
The Committee said it accepted there was a case for additional runway capacity, particularly hub capacity, and that expansion at Heathrow could deliver the Government’s strategic objectives for greater connectivity for passengers and freight.
Committee chair Lilian Greenwood MP said: ‘The Committee’s recommendations improve the NPS and reduce the chance of a successful legal challenge.
'The Northwest Runway scheme, as set out in the draft NPS, is the highest cost expansion option and one of the largest privately financed infrastructure projects anywhere in the world.
'At present, the draft NPS does not guarantee that passengers will be protected from the cost risks associated with the scheme. The secretary of state must set out how airport charges will be held down.
'During our inquiry, we heard how communities might be affected. Thousands of people across London could be exposed to worse levels of noise, air quality and traffic congestion - there must be sufficient measures to protect or compensate them.
'The Government and Heathrow have made efforts to mitigate these significant impacts, but safeguards on air quality, surface access, connectivity, costs and charges and noise should be strengthened. As a matter of urgency, we also want to see how the Government plans to deliver the necessary airspace change.
'This must all be done before a final NPS is tabled for approval by both Houses of Parliament.’
HACAN, which campaigns against Heathrow expansion, said it was disappointed that the committee had backed the Government’s plans but welcomed the proposed tougher conditions on noise and air quality.
Marie-Claude Hemming, director of external affairs for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said: ‘Now that the Transport Committee has endorsed Heathrow expansion, we hope Government will expedite this scheme by addressing the concerns the committee has raised, and that Parliament will vote in favour this year.’
The additional safeguards that the committee said are needed ‘to ensure that the interests of passengers are protected, and the adverse environmental, social and health impacts on affected communities are addressed’ include:
- Air quality
- Surface access
- Regional connectivity
- Scheme costs and airport charges
- Community impacts and compensation
- Resource and waste management
The committee also identified associated policy measures that were required if expansion at Heathrow was to be delivered effectively. These include:
- Policy on airspace change
- Wider Government policies on air quality, noise and surface access improvements
- Effective use of existing airport capacity