Terms of reference

The purpose and objectives of the Airports Commission.

The Airports Commission will examine the scale and timing of any requirement for additional capacity to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub, and it will identify and evaluate how any need for additional capacity should be met in the short, medium and long term.

It should maintain a UK-wide perspective, taking appropriate account of the national, regional and local implications of any proposals.

It should engage openly with interested parties and members of the public, providing opportunities to submit evidence and proposals and to set out views relevant to its work.

It should seek to engage with a range of stakeholders, including with local and devolved government as well as the opposition, to build consensus in support of its approach and recommendations.

The Commission should report no later than the end of 2013 on:

  • its assessment of the evidence on the nature, scale and timing of the steps needed to maintain the UK’s global hub status; and
  • its recommendation(s) for immediate actions to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the next 5 years – consistent with credible long term options

The assessments and recommendations in the Commission’s interim report should be underpinned by a detailed review of the evidence in relation to the current position in the UK with regard to aviation demand and connectivity, forecasts for how these are likely to develop, and the expected future pattern of the UK’s requirements for international and domestic connectivity.

Its assessments of potential immediate actions should take into account their economic, social and environmental costs and benefits, and their operational deliverability. It should also be informed by an initial high-level assessment of the credible long-term options which merit further detailed development.

The Commission should report no later than summer 2015 on:

  • its assessment of the options for meeting the UK’s international connectivity needs, including their economic, social and environmental impact;
  • its recommendation(s) for the optimum approach to meeting any needs; and
  • its recommendation(s) for ensuring that the need is met as expeditiously as practicable within the required timescale.

The Commission should base the recommendations in its final report on a detailed consideration of the case for each of the credible options. This should include the development or examination of detailed business cases and environmental assessments for each option, as well as consideration of their operational, commercial and technical viability.

As part of its final report in summer 2015, it should also provide materials, based on this detailed analysis, which will support the government in preparing a National Policy Statement to accelerate the resolution of any future planning applications for major airports infrastructure.