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The 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.

Airports National Policy Statement (NPS)

National Policy Statements (NPS) set out the Government’s planning policy for various types of nationally significant infrastructure. The Government published a draft Airports NPS on 2 February 2017 and a 16-week public consultation was subsequently held.

The draft NPS sets out the need for additional airport capacity in the south-east of England, while explaining why the Government believes that this should be delivered by a north-west runway at Heathrow. You can read the draft NPS here. The Government is now analysing the feedback it has received.

A final version is expected to be published for MPs to approve in a vote in Parliament in 2018. If accepted, the NPS will provide the planning policy that will apply to a third runway at Heathrow and set out the policy tests that the project must meet.

Further consultation on the draft NPS

In September 2017 the Government confirmed that it would be conducting a short period of further consultation on aspects of the NPS to allow updated evidence, including revised aviation demand forecasts and the government’s final air quality plan, to be taken into account. This further consultation will focus mainly on the specific elements of the NPS affected, and is expected to begin later this year.

The Government has stated that they do not expect this additional period of consultation to impact on the timetable for parliamentary scrutiny of the NPS, which is expected to be subject to a vote in the House of Commons in the first half of 2018.

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/