Heathrow: consent for a Colnbrook Runway could be achieved as early as 2020

Heathrow has begun geeing up airport workers in the past few weeks with internal messages that suggest it could still gain development consent for a new runway as early as 2020.

Terminal 2 (above) took a full five years to build without the complications of the M25

Terminal 2 (above) took a full five years to build without the complications of the M25. Terminal 5 took 6 years.

Heathrow remains in bullish mood for the New Year, predicting that a Development Consent Order for a new runway could be granted as early as 2020.  The announcement, to employees and contract workers, implies that the airport believes it could still see a new runway opening within ten years.

The internal statement follows a press release issued before Christmas that confirmed it had begun work on its development consent application and intended to make a submission in 2019.

In the communiqué the airport says it will undertake two public consultations and assessment of the benefits and impacts of the project before submitting an application for development consent “sometime in 2019”.  It anticipates a six month sprint through the DCO approval process, which will be carried out by the Planning Inspectorate, before a decision by the Secretary of State.

Heathrow's internal announcement

Heathrow’s internal announcement

In public Heathrow is predicting approval in 2021, but it suggestion internally that consent may come even in 2020 demonstrates the confidence the airport has that it will have no major hold-ups.

By contrast, the recent Development Consent Order for the M4 Smart Motorway took 18 months.  Applied for in March 2015, a recommendation from the Examining Authority was not made until June last year.  A decision was finally made in September 2016.

Originally Heathrow anticipated development consent by 2019, with an opening of a new runway in June 2025.  It has, however, made no mention of an opening date in its latest communication.

The schedule Heathrow has communicated internally

The schedule Heathrow has communicated publicly

For residents and small business owners the date for which development consent is gained is key: Heathrow has said it will not open its compensation scheme until then.

However its optimism is not matched by other stakeholders.

The Government set out a more conservative timeline for a new runway to be operational in publishing its decision recommending a Colnbrook runway in October.  It believes the process will take another year.

Slough Borough Council anticipates consent not earlier than 2023 – which would push the opening of a new runway to 2028 at the earliest, and possibly later if Heathrow’s construction schedule unravels with complications over the M25.

Terminals 2 and 5 took five and six years respectively to build.

 

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