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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/heathrow-north-west-runway-and-surface-access/heathrow-north-west-runway-surface-access-explanatory-briefing
Existing, committed and planned improvements
Heathrow is already well connected and, as the map above shows, will benefit from transport improvements which are planned or already in construction.
- work starts this year to increase the capacity and reliability of the M4 motorway between junctions 3 to 12
- HS2 will provide an interchange at Old Oak Common allowing passengers from the Midlands and the North to change on to fast Elizabeth Line or Heathrow Express services.
- the Elizabeth Line will connect Heathrow to central London, the City and Canary Wharf. In May 2018 TfL took over responsibility for services to Heathrow from London replacing Heathrow Connect. From December 2019 the full service will operate including 6 trains per hour to and from Heathrow Airport
- the Piccadilly Line connects Heathrow Airport with central London and planned improvements will provide 60% more capacity
- our future investment plans include funding to develop the Western Rail Link to Heathrow for faster connections to Reading and the west country. Network Rail is carrying out its statutory consultation to enable an application for development consent
- market engagement is underway on the proposed Southern Rail Link to Heathrow. This proposed new rail link would connect Heathrow Airport with Waterloo, Surrey and Hampshire
The table below sets out the number of trains per hour we expect to serve Heathrow in the future.
|Crossrail (Elizabeth Line)||0||6||6||8|
|Western Rail Link to Heathrow||0||0||4||4|
|Southern Rail Link to Heathrow||0||0||4||8|
What does the National Policy Statement say?
The proposed Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) requires the applicant to develop a Surface Access Strategy, in conjunction with its Airport Transport Forum, which will minimise the effects of expansion. It must set out:
- the needs of the expansion scheme, reflecting the changing numbers of passengers, freight operators and airport workers, and the role of surface transport in relation to air quality and carbon
- specific targets to maximise journeys to the airport by public transport, cycling or walking, along with actions, policies and performance indicators to ensure delivery
- a mechanism for the Airport Transport Forum to oversee implementation of the strategy and monitor progress against the targets
- details of how the applicant will increase the number of passenger journeys to the airport by public transport, cycling and walking to at least 50% by 2030 and 55% by 2040
- how it will reduce, from a 2013 baseline, all staff car trips by 25% by 2030 and 50% by 2040
- an assessment of the feasibility, benefits and disbenefits of the proposed measures
- annual public reporting against these targets
The proposed Airports NPS also requires the applicant to:
- assess the implications of expansion on the capacity of the wider surface access network;
- secure the upgrading of road, rail or other transport networks which are physically needed to enable the new runway to operate; and
- consult other relevant transport authorities and operators on the proposed mitigation measures and demonstrate that they are content with the deliverability of any new transport schemes
The proposed NPS sets out the status of proposed new rail schemes that would benefit connectivity to Heathrow. Crossrail (the Elizabeth Line) construction is nearing completion. The Western Rail Link to Heathrow is at an advanced stage of development and has a statutory consultation underway. Network Rail is expected to apply for development consent in 2019. The Southern Rail Link to Heathrow is at an earlier stage of development.
For schemes such as these which are not solely required to deliver airport capacity and have a wider range of beneficiaries, the government will consider the need for public funding alongside an appropriate contribution from the airport on a case-by-case basis.
No new traffic
We support Heathrow Airport Ltd’s aspiration of not increasing the level of airport-related landside road traffic, which would be one approach to mitigating some of the impacts of expansion. However, we are concerned that there may be unintended consequences arising from this pledge, and it is only once the detailed assessments that will accompany any development consent application have been carried out that these can be fully assessed. Any decision on whether this pledge becomes a binding requirement would therefore be taken as part of the development consent process.
Works affecting the M25
The construction of the runway requires it to pass over the M25. This approach has been used at other airports, such as Atlanta in the USA where the new runway and taxiway crosses over the Interstate 285 highway. The NPS requires the applicant to consult Highways England and ensure that its plans are consistent with the guidance set out in Highways England’s licence. Highways England has a duty to minimise disruption and would not be able to support an application that failed to do so.
Heathrow Airport Ltd set out its proposals for the M25 in its January 2018 consultation including how it proposes to build the new section of M25 off-line to minimise disruption to the road network.
Development consent order
If the Airports NPS is designated the applicant can then develop and consult on its detailed plans for a development consent application.
The application would be accompanied by a detailed Surface Access Strategy, a transport assessment and detailed modelling of the impacts of the scheme, as well as the mitigations. This would need to satisfy the requirements of the NPS and any issues raised through the development consent process.
The examining authority would need to consider whether the applicant had taken all reasonable steps to mitigate the transport impacts of expansion, including environmental impacts such as on air quality. The examining authority would also consider whether any further conditions were necessary.
The Airports NPS expressly states that if the Secretary of State considers the mitigations are insufficient to effectively offset or reduce the impacts arising from expansion, the Secretary of State will impose requirements on the applicant to mitigate the adverse impacts.
If development consent is given, the mitigations and support packages set out in the application, and any additional requirements imposed by the Secretary of State, will become planning requirements and/or planning obligations. Both are legally enforceable. Breaking planning requirements in a development consent order (DCO) without reasonable excuse is a criminal offence and can lead to potentially unlimited fines. Persistent breaches can be tackled through court injunctions and can lead to restrictions on operations.