Government targets third runway operations at Heathrow by 2026

The British government has today set out the next steps for the £14 billion expansion project at Heathrow Airport after the landmark vote by Parliament last night.

MPs decisively backed plans for a third landing strip – a new north-west runway – as MPs voted in favour of the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) by 415 votes to 119.

In a statement, the Department for Transport said construction on a third runway at Heathrow could start within three years in 2021 and the runway could be operational by 2026.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today formally designated the Airport NPS – paving the way for Heathrow to now submit a formal planning application.

Grayling said: “This marks a critical step towards ensuring future generations have the international connections we need, as well as strengthening the links between all parts of the UK and our global hub.

“I have always been clear that this issue goes beyond party politics, and this result demonstrates the clear desire to get on with delivering this vital scheme.

“There is still much to be done, including defending this decision against the potential legal challenges, but we are absolutely committed to working closely with local communities and ensuring Heathrow stick to their promises on addressing the local and environmental impacts of expansion.”

Following today’s designation of the NPS, the next stage of the process will see Heathrow bring forward detailed proposals for planning consent, which would be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

As part of this, Heathrow will need to carry out further consultation with local communities on the finer details of their scheme design and the associated compensation and mitigation packages.

Alongside this Heathrow will continue to develop plans for the necessary airspace changes around the airport, including new flightpaths. These will also be subject to consultation with local communities, ahead of being submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority for approval.

The Department for Transport said Heathrow will also keep the Secretary of State and Parliament appraised of progress, in particular on how it will “meet its commitments to the environment, communities, domestic connectivity and delivering a scheme in a timely manner that is cost efficient”.