The position of the UK within the global aviation market is critical to its economy: it is central to ensuring increased productivity, growth and employment opportunities. The Airports Commission’s terms of reference require it to propose measures to maintain the UK’s status as global hub for aviation. Delivering new capacity by 2030 will be crucial to that objective.
The Airports Commission short-listed three options for this new capacity: one new northwest runway at Heathrow Airport; a westerly extension of the northern runway at Heathrow Airport; and one new runway at Gatwick Airport. It conducted a robust, integrated and transparent process to assess these options, considering a range of economic, social and environmental factors and engaging extensively with interested parties through formal consultation, public evidence sessions and a programme of meetings and visits.
Each of the three schemes shortlisted was considered a credible option for expansion, capable of delivering valuable enhancements to the UK’s aviation capacity and connectivity. Each would also have environmental impacts, which would need to be carefully managed.
The Commission has nonetheless unanimously concluded that the proposal for a new Northwest Runway at Heathrow Airport, in combination with a significant package of measures to address its environmental and community impacts (see box below), presents the strongest case.