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Planning Process

We are committed to listening to our community, acting fairly, and helping local people and businesses have their say, so our neighbours can share in the economic benefits that expansion is estimated to generate. As part of the planning process we will hold comprehensive consultations, the first of which took place at the beginning of 2018.

Throughout the planning process we will continue to engage with our neighbours, airlines, partners, elected representatives and Government to make this a project that delivers for everyone.

Expansion will be authorised via a Development Consent Order, a special kind of consent for major infrastructure projects in England and Wales. The process will take place in accordance with requirements set out in the Planning Act 2008.  Below are some key milestones in the process.

On 25 June 2018, Parliament formally backed Heathrow expansion, with MPs voting in support of the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS). The ANPS sets out Government policy for new airport infrastructure including support for a new north west runway at Heathrow.

This is an important milestone as it allows Heathrow to proceed with applying for planning consent, subject to any legal challenges. Throughout the planning process there will be opportunities for communities and stakeholders to continue to influence and shape our proposals. .

What happens next?

The NPS has now been formally designated meaning Heathrow can apply to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for what is known as a Development Consent Order (DCO).  This is required for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) like Heathrow. The DCO will contain most of the consents and powers that we need to build and operate the third runway. The DCO process places real importance on engagement with residents and stakeholders and there will continue to be opportunities to influence the proposals through the planning process over the coming months and years.

The preparation of Heathrow’s DCO application involves periods of public consultation and continuous engagement with neighbouring communities, local authorities, airlines, statutory bodies and the Heathrow Community Engagement Board (HCEB).

The DCO application will then be submitted to PINS, currently expected in 2020.

Heathrow Consultations

Heathrow will consult on our expansion proposals in two stages.

Heathrow Consultation 1

The first consultation sought views on our emerging proposals in terms of what the expanded airport could look like, how it might operate, and how we might best mitigate against the potential impacts, including proposals for compensation and noise insulation. The consultation ran from 17 January 2018 – 28 March 2018. The feedback is currently being reviewed and we will be used to as we continue to develop our proposals.

Airspace Future Operations Consultation (Jan 2019)

This Consultation is now closed and we are in the process of reviewing your responses and archiving this consultation.For more information on our Consultations visit https://www.heathrowconsultation.com/

The Airspace and Future Operations consultation asked respondents to help shape the airport’s plans for its future airspace – both for the existing two runways and as part of the proposed expansion. The eight- week Airspace & Future Operations consultation ran from 8th January until 4th March and asked feedback on several key topics:

– Airspace change for an expanded Heathrow: the local factors we should consider in different geographic areas when designing future flight paths.

– Airspace change to make better use of our existing two runways: the local factors we should consider in different geographic areas when designing new flight paths for some aircraft arrivals on our existing two runways.

– Future operations for an expanded Heathrow: how we will operate our three runways in the future – this includes managing noise; respite through runway and airspace alternation; directional preference and night flights.

Airport Expansion Consultation (June 2019)

The consultation responses from Consultation 1 held in January 2018, will feed into a further consultation in June 2019, where views will be sought on the proposed scheme for expansion and how Heathrow will manage and mitigate the effects of this growth on local communities.The consultation in June 2019 is statutory and Heathrow is required by Government to hold it to determine our preferred plan for expansion.

Development Consent Order (DCO)

After the Airport Expansion Consultation in June 2019, Heathrow will submit a final proposal to the Planning Inspectorate as part of an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) under the Planning Act 2008. The decision on whether to grant the DCO will be made by the Secretary of State following a public examination period led by the Planning Inspectorate.

The DCO application will include requests for a range of powers and authorisations, including powers for the compulsory acquisition of land.


Construction on the main works (including the runway) will begin shortly after the DCO has been granted. It is possible that some early works will take place before then. Any early works will be subject to consultation and environmental assessment as required.

Expansion is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and permission to build the runway will take granted via a Development Consent Order in accordance with the Planning Act 2008 The Planning Act was introduced specifically for projects of this scale and national importance.

Other such projects are Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station and the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

For more information on the DCO application process, please visit the Planning Inspectorate’s website: https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/