04:55PM, Wednesday 08 September 2021
The Government has announced it will not be reviewing the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) on Heathrow expansion ‘at this time’.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has faced calls to re-examine the policy, which favours a third runway at Heathrow, due to changes in the Government’s position on climate change since the document was drawn up in 2018.
A target has now been set for the UK to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 with Parliament also declaring a climate emergency in 2019.
But in a letter signed by an authorised signatory of transport secretary Grant Shapps, the DfT said now is not an appropriate time to review the ANPS.
The letter, published on Monday, said: “Changes to Government’s and the Climate Change Committee’s position on climate change, as well as Parliament’s declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ represent a significant and unforeseen change in circumstances that was not anticipated at the time of designation of the ANPS.
“However, he (Grant Shapps) considers that it is not possible to conclude properly that any of the policy set out in the ANPS would have been materially different had these circumstances been anticipated at the time of designation.”
Mr Shapps did not rule out reviewing the document underpinning Heathrow expansion once the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy has been finalised.
This will set out how the aviation sector will ensure it delivers net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The transport secretary added that while COVID-19 has had a ‘profound’ impact on the aviation industry, it is too soon to predict what the long-term impact will be on demand for flights.
Campaigners against a third runway at Heathrow Airport said the Government’s decision not to review the ANPS is ‘delaying the inevitable’.
Geraldine Nicholson, from Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “Although this decision does not rule out a review at a future stage, when policy in areas affecting Heathrow expansion, such as air quality and climate change, are known, it is extremely frustrating that action has been decided against today.
“Heathrow expansion will not pass the planning stage of the process on a whole raft of issues, so why continue the policy any further now.”
A spokesman for Heathrow said: “This decision recognises the benefits an expanded Heathrow would deliver for UK plc.
“Although we are currently focused on the safe restart of international travel and the airport’s recovery, demand will return, and the UK’s hub capacity will once again, become constrained.
“Not addressing this will have significant consequences for international trade and tourism and for the Prime Minister’s Global Britain ambitions.
“We look forward to working with Ministers and the Jet Zero Council to develop and deliver a plan which proves that the economic benefits of additional airport capacity do not have to come at the cost of the environment.”