Heathrow has today announced it will unveil plans to deliver airport expansion "more responsibly and affordably", with the launch of its planning consultation into its long-awaited new runway next month.
The airport's consultation, which is a separate one to the government's on its airports national policy statement, will cover aspects such as airport design and the big question mark over reconfiguring the M25 for the new runway.
It will also outline Heathrow's proposals for "delivering expansion affordably", including how the airport could phase construction of new terminal developments. Heathrow said that gradually increasing infrastructure to match up with passenger growth will help the airport complete expansion while keeping airport charges close to current levels.
This has been a contentious point for some - notably the boss of British Airways owner IAG. Willie Walsh has been sceptical of Heathrow's claims it will deliver expansion while keeping airport charges close to current levels, saying the third runway will lead to a rise in airport charges that will then have to be passed onto passengers.
Walsh has also expressed concerns over the M25 plans previously offered up by the airport.
Heathrow has been looking into its various options with local stakeholders and airline partners to update the plans previously submitted to the Airports Commission. Next month's consultation will provide the public with a first glance at the developed proposals, as well as an opportunity to come back with feedback on them.
The 10-week consultation kicks off on 17 January and will run until 28 March. Separately, the government's national policy statement is expected to go before MPs in the first half of next year.
Heathrow's consultation proposals will be offered up in two parts, with the first on infrastructure design options for an expanded Heathrow and considerations on how to mitigate the environmental hit from the airport's development. The second will look at future design principles for airspace around Heathrow.
The airport today reiterated its previous pledges to local communities concerned about expansion, including a commitment to compensating eligible property owners the full market value of their homes along with an extra 25 per cent.
Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director expansion, said:
Expanding Heathrow is pivotal to Britain’s future prosperity and it’s a chance to make the airport a better neighbour for our local communities. Over the past year, we’ve been working hard to evolve our expansion plans and have come up with several new options to deliver it more responsibly and affordably.
Next January, we’ll be sharing these options in a 10-week public planning consultation and we want to hear what you think. By working together throughout the consultation, the public can help shape our plans and, jointly, we can ensure that expansion delivers for our passengers, businesses across Britain and importantly for our local communities.
However, Paul McGuinness, chair of the No Third Runway Coalition, said the announcement was "disingenuous".
"To claim that the public are being consulted, when the only subjects up for discussion exclude the matters on which the public is most concerned, is little more than a charade," he said.
McGuinness added that locals want to be consulted on "the flight paths for the extra 250,000 extra flights each year, and to learn which communities will start to be adversely impacted by aircraft noise for the very first time".