Airports Commission receives 50 proposals, seeks comments

The Airports Commission has published a summary of the proposals submitted for the planned expansion of the UK’s airport capacity.

Fifty short and medium term proposals have been put forward to the commission to safeguard the UK’s international aviation hub status. About half of the 50 entries call for additional runways, including Heathrow’s three third runway options and Gatwick’s proposal for a second runway to the south of the current site.

Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies said: ‘The proposals that we have received and that we have published today demonstrate imaginative and thoughtful responses …[and] show clearly the wide spectrum of views that exist on these issues.’

While a few ideas are a ‘little far-fetched,’ there are ‘a number of interesting new proposals. For example, Heathrow are proposing something which is rather different from what was planned before, so the old third runway is not in fact now on the table, but other different types of runway are.’

‘It’s very important that what we propose is within the climate change policies that are legislated, of course,’ Sir Howard told the BBC. ‘So some of the ideas that we just expand to cater for any level of demand, I think, are implausible because you cannot imagine aviation growing so much that the climate emissions of the rest of the economy have to be reduced to zero in order to accommodate it.

So we are looking at that first, and we are then looking at what use you can make of other non-London and the southeast airports, and only when we have done that will we see just what additional capacity is required in London and the southeast. All of that will be done by December.’

The commission is now seeking responses on the various submissions from all parties by September 27.

‘The timetable to comment is tight, as we need to move quickly to winnow down the options and reduce uncertainty for potentially affected communities. I encourage everyone with an interest to make their views known, to help inform our recommendations on these complex and important questions,’ Sir Howard said.

The commission will screen the 50 proposals for a short-list of the ‘most credible long term options’ by the end of the year. There will be further opportunities to comment and submit views on the short-listed options in 2014, and a full report is scheduled to follow in summer 2015.