If planning permission for a third runway at Heathrow was given, the DfT will designate a Public Safety Zone (PSZ) at each end of the new runway based on 1 in 100,000 annual individual risk contours. Airport operators must offer to relocate all existing development within the 1 in 10,000 risk contour. In the area between the 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 100,000 annual individual risk contours, PSZ policy is a general presumption against any further development that is not low density or low occupancy. However there is no policy regarding existing development in that area, although the people there will be at higher risk than before and unable to make full use of their land. The consultation documents don’t show the 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 100,000 contours, but dozens if not hundreds of properties could be affected.
AEF have long argued that the principles supporting the designation of PSZs in England are flawed: please see for further information.
There may also be a conflict between the PSZ designation and regional housing targets which, for instance, would require 5,700 new homes to built in Slough by 2026; and 4,450 in Hounslow by 2016/17.
WHERE DOES BAA END AND GOVERNMENT BEGIN?
The Department for Transport and BAA have collaborated on the studies being consulted on, studies which suggest that expansion of Heathrow is possible within the Government’s stated constraints. The context of the White Paper was that it would be for operators to come forward with specific proposals. Insofar as the Government has set out the tests that need to be met for Heathrow expansion to go ahead, we believe it is for BAA to demonstrate compliance, not the Department for Transport.
In contrast, Government are not consulting on the ANASE study which offers a different approach and different conclusions, despite its findings on annoyance being accepted, in the main part, by expert reviewers.
Shortly after publication of the White Paper, former Aviation Minister Chris Mullin reflected on his time in office:
I learnt two things. First, that the demands of the aviation industry are insatiable. Second, that successive governments have usually given way to them. Although nowadays the industry pays lip-service to the notion of sustainability, its demands are essentially unchanged. It wants more of everything— airports, runways, terminals. 13
The amount of public money being spent, the DfT's doggedness in seeking to enable the addition of a third runway as soon as practicable, the huge industry pressure to expand, even the loaded name of the Project for the Sustainable Development of Heathrow – all go to reinforce the impression that the outcome of this consultation process has already been agreed, and that DfT and BAA are two sides of the same coin. Finally, we would like to comment at the relatively short period of time offered for consultation. The studies and background papers have been assembled during the course of the last three years.
13 “What's on the Horizon?” New Statesman supplement, 15.12.2003