The Government has decided to back the provision a third runway at Heathrow in order to expand UK airport capacity. This follows the recommendation by Sir Howard Davies last year and was the choice for many businesses as it will be able to carry more cargo.
However, it was also subject to much opposition from environmental groups and MPs of affected constituencies. The leader of Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council has confirmed that the authority will spend £50,000 to challenge this decision. We can therefore expect that the decision will be caught up in legal battles at each stage.
The next step will be a public consultation and a vote by MPs next winter. The development of the third runway will require planning permission and a national policy statement. Heathrow will also need to acquire the land for the third runway. This will most likely be done by compulsory purchase.
Each process gives the opportunity for consultation and could be tested in the courts. This makes the Airports Commission’s estimated construction start of 2020/2021 seem very ambitious!