Heathrow expansion: Setfords’ Head of Planning, Ifath Nawaz, outlines the next phases and explains the options open to those affected

The Government’s announcement that its preferred option for airport expansion is a third runaway at Heathrow is just the first phase of a much longer process and if you are affected you still have legal rights and there is action you can take.

  Four major stages will now follow:

  1. In the new year the Government will issue a draft National Policy Statement (NPS) – this sets out its policy on expansion, what it plans to do and where exactly it plans to build. It will also reveal details of how the decision for a third runway at Heathrow was reached. This will be a chance for those opposed to the scheme to see if there were any flaws in that process. Was it legal? Are their grounds for action?
  2. The NPS will be subject to consultation with the public and all those affected.
  3. MPS will vote on the NPS. There is already much division within the Government and other parties over the decision. There is a chance it could be rejected at the voting stage, although it is unlikely.
  4. The Airports Authority will then bring forward a detailed planning application – this will offer a further opportunity for the public to make their views known.

So what can you do now?

Besides waiting to receive correspondence asking for your views you can proactively prepare to ensure your views and concerns are heard and acted upon.

Four local councils have already indicated their intention to launch a judicial review – this will see them take action within the courts challenging the Government’s decision. It  may be worth contacting your local council to find out what they intend to do and explore the merits of working together.

As an individual, business or as a residents/community group you can get involved in such an action or launch a judicial review of your own.

How much time have I got?

Once the National Policy Statement is released there will be a consultation period usually of around two or three months. MPs will then vote on that statement and, if it is agreed, the next stage of the process will begin: the formulating and then submission of the planning application by the Airports Authority to secure a Development Consent Order.

What happens during the planning application stage and will I get any further opportunities to make my views known?

Yes. There are three things you need to know:

  1. Developers will consult with local communities during the preparation of the application as to what they are planning to do.
  2. Before the Government considers the formal application for a Development Consent Order there will be another stage known as Pre Examination. During this time the public can register and submit a summary of their views directly to the planning inspector.
  3. Once the application is being considered the planning inspector will consider evidence submitted in writing as well as in person at hearings.

The entire process is expected to take up to four years. At Setfords we will be able to help advise you on what are the best next steps to take. We can advise on the impact on you and your local community and how best to present this. We can advise on what options are open to you, and help guide you through this complicated process which will require time, expertise and tenacity.

Setfords’ planning team is headed by Ifath Nawaz. Ifath has extensive experience in judicial review and planning matters.  To discuss further please contact Ifath on inawaz@setfords.co.uk or call Setfords on 0845 450 6135.