Heathrow expansion

1/17/2022 4:11:44 PM

1. Heathrow Expansion


Following a review of options led by Sir Howard Davies, the government gave the green light for Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) to bring forward an application for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
This option was chosen over:

  • extending the existing Heathrow Northern Runway
  • a new full length second runway at Gatwick Airport

Heathrow Airport Limited's proposal was for a new runway, north-west of the current airport. This new runway would go over and bridge the M25, south of the M4, and run parallel to the Buckinghamshire county border. The proposal would require new terminal capacity to increase passenger numbers from around 80 million per year to 130 million passengers per year by 2035.


Aerial photo of the runway, showing the North West Runway, the Northern Runway and the Southern Runway


Heathrow Expansion statistics 

  • Passenger growth: 80 million in 2018 to 130 million passengers per annum
  • Heathrow is the largest UK port by value (26% by value of UK trade) and expansion could double the value of freight by 2040 and 95% cargo in the hold of passenger aircraft
  • Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership (BLEP) research indicates that 1 in 5 jobs are supported by the proximity and access to Heathrow
  • Davies Commission said expansion means 75,000 new jobs in London and the South East, and 180,000 overall in the UK by 2050, with value to the economy of £211Bn
  • Land around the current airport will be required to support the expansion and Buckinghamshire Council is working with HAL to consider the mitigation necessary to enable expansion
  • 10,000 apprenticeships will be provided to contribute to building a stronger skills base
  • New domestic flight routes


What it could mean for Bucks

  • Deliver new employment opportunities for highly skilled roles and apprentices
  • Improve reliability and frequency of public transport connections including links to High Wycombe and Aylesbury along with Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLtH)
  • HAL has promised to deliver 'no net increase' in road traffic as part of the expansion. This commitment is supported by the government in the Airports National Policy Statement
  • No aircraft being held in the Bovingdon stack over parts of Buckinghamshire
  • Increase the national and international connectivity for Buckinghamshire
  • An improved recreational and natural environment which would provide a Green Gateway legacy in southern Buckinghamshire and the wider Colne Valley



Air Quality

The main cause is not emissions from aircraft, but rather the surface traffic in the Heathrow and West London area.

HAL proposes establishing an airside ultra-low emission zone. This is designed to improve community health through cleaner air, for example in the Ivers parish area which has been designated an Air Quality Management Area due to poor air quality.


The Government has repeated its pledge to the Davies Commission.

'50% airport passenger journeys made by public and sustainable transport by 2030, supporting no more airport-related cars on the road, so local areas can thrive without increased congestion'

To achieve this, the County Council and other transport bodies will need to agree a phased programme of investment by Government and HAL in rail links, and public transport.

Aircraft noise

The number of air traffic movements would rise significantly should the expansion be approved. The level of aircraft noise produced can impact upon residents quality of life, the productivity of businesses and the tranquility of parks and public spaces.

We are continuing to push for an approach that minimises the need to affect new populations and business. This principal has been agreed with the Civil Aviation Authority and so will be one of the key guiding principles in the design of airspace and flight paths over the county. The council is also requesting that periods of relief from aircraft noise should be applied equally across all affected populations.


The surrounding environment will be impacted by expanding Heathrow airport. This includes the impact on landscape character and visual impacts, biodiversity and ecological condition, flooding and water quality, historic environment and land use.

We have been successful in pushing back on built development proposals being located in the county as part of Heathrow expansion. This protects Green Belt land and the communities that use the parks and footpaths in them from development.


Buckinghamshire Council's position on Heathrow Expansion

The government consulted on a draft Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) between February and May 2017.

We submitted a response to the consultation following a vote in April 2017 and supported expansion. This was subject to HAL and Government providing appropriate mitigation for local Buckinghamshire residents, business, particularly those in the Ivers area and for the environment.

BC submitted a response to a second round of NPS consultation which closed in December 2017

Heathrow through previous consultations have sought the public and council's views on proposals in terms of what the expanded airport could:

  • look like
  • how it might operate
  • how Heathrow might best mitigate against the potential impacts

As part of the wider expansion, HAL have also sought the public and council’s views on the changing of its airspace. As part of this there have been discussions on airspace principles which will guide the future design of flight paths.

In September 2019, we submitted a joint response with the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership to the statutory Heathrow Airport Limited consultation.

Our responses can be found below:

Response to Heathrow Consultation 1 (CON1) in March 2018

Scoping response

Joint response to Airspace and Future Operations Consultation in March 2019

Response to Airport Expansion Consultation in September 2019 PDF, 62 pages, 2.29MB

Technical appendix 1A - Review of Preliminary Transport Information Report PDF, 11 pages, 180KB

Technical appendix 1B - Review of HHASAM v2.0 LMVR PDF, 18 pages, 907KB

Technical appendix 1C - Review of Draft Code of Construction Practice PDF, 13 pages, 181KB


Expansion timeline

HAL's planning application under the 2008 Planning Act will be considered by a set of independent examiners appointed by the Planning Inspectorate. This was formerly known as a Development Consent Order (DCO).

HAL is working towards a DCO submission in 2020, DCO approval in 2021 and opening of the third runway by 2026.

The expected airport reconfiguration will be undertaken in phases and by 2035, expansion and the use of a new third runway would provide capacity of 130 million passengers per annum through the airport.
Alongside the expansion HAL will be seeking approval from the Civil Aviation Authority for new flight paths. HALs consultation between June and September 2019 is also seeking views on the new flight paths. HAL plan to complete the process of getting approval for all new flight paths by 2023. 


Further information

Heathrow Expansion website

What Heathrow means for Bucks


Print entire guide

Last updated: 17 January 2022

Was this page helpful?

Very poor
Neither good nor poor
Very good