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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. This will include a public consultation which is planned in 2019.

What happens next?

Once the NPS has now been formally designated, Heathrow can now 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.

Heathrow Consultation 2

Our second consultation will consult on our proposed application for development consent, including providing Preliminary Environmental Information on the proposed application.

Development Consent Order (DCO)

After our two public consultations, 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/