London Heathrow Photo: Heathrow

LONDON – In December of 2003, the British Government at the time announced plans to build a third runway and a sixth terminal at London Heathrow Airport.

Fast forward fifteen years of legal battles, protests and campaigning. Closure come today as it was ruled by the High Court that the proposals could go ahead.

In 2003, plans were announced for the expansion of Heathrow Airport, to include a third runway and sixth terminal.

This was in an attempt to make London a lucrative place to transit through, compared to the European superhubs at Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris and Madrid. Heathrow was operating at close to its capacity and is currently utilising 98% of its 400,000 flights per year cap.

In 2010 the coalition government at the time dropped the plans for expansion along with the British Airports Authority (BAA) the following suit shortly after.

Various other options were considered in the meantime, including better utilisation of regional airports, using larger aircraft and a completely new airport built in the Thames estuary.

Heathrow, British Airways Heritage BEA livery on an Airbus A319, to celebrate BA centenary celebrations, March 2019.

In July 2015 following the study by the Airport Commission, it was recommended once again to continue with plans for the third runway at Heathrow Airport.

The UK government agreed to the plan on the 25th of October 2016. Heathrow Airport clapping their hands in glee and dusting off the archives set about planning for the construction of the third runway.

Within London, there was and still is a strong opposition and strong backing for the plans. Numerous passenger and cargo airlines were backing the scheme, along with with trade unions local authorities and representative chambers of commerce.

On the flip side of the coin, several UK government parties were strongly against the plans as well as the office of Sadiq Khan Mayor of London, aviation campaign group Plane Stupid and environmental groups including Greenpeace.

A challenge in the high court has been brought against the UK Government by legal teams representing five councils, local residents, environmental charities and the London Mayors Office. The lawyers representing the government called the case “unarguable”. Seems they were right.  

On the morning of Wednesday 01st May 2019, the high court ruled that the processes used during the consultation were fair and measured and that the expansion could go ahead.

The High Court offered the opposition a seven-day window to lodge an appeal against the ruling.

We are expecting to see contracts with British based firms signed during 2019, creating an additional 900 jobs and 200 apprenticeships for the construction work.

In 2020 the final planning application will be submitted for consideration and approval by the Planning Inspectorate.

It is expected for construction to work to commence in 2021 with the first phase complete and open for traffic in 2025 and by 2028 the full expansion will be completed and operational.