Heathrow’s Third Runway: Dead?

It looks as if a major blow has been dealt against the putative third runway at Heathrow:

According to a presentation by the Department for Transport, seen by the Guardian, BAA is not expected to seek planning permission for a third runway until 2012. The last possible date for a general election is 3 June 2010 and BAA’s best hope for expanding Heathrow is to submit an application by then.

However, executives at the airport group have conceded that it will be impossible to compile the plans and data necessary for an application by that date. Under the DfT timetable, any BAA planning application is likely to be submitted under a Tory administration that has vowed to obstruct Heathrow’s expansion.

The DfT presentation deals a further blow to BAA’s ambitions by conceding that the government document that must underpin a planning request for major infrastructure, a national policy statement, will not be ready until 2011. A national policy statement is a key guide for any planning decision by the Infrastructure Planning Commission, the newly created body that will evaluate a Heathrow proposal.

Anti-expansion campaigners said the DfT document confirmed that the odds of Heathrow getting a third runway were diminishing. “There is no way that BAA can get planning permission before the next general election. The chances that a third runway will never be built are increasing all the time,” said John Stewart, chair of the Hacan ClearSkies campaign group.

Good news that BAA simply don’t have the time to assemble all the information needed for the planning application before the next general election. Bad news would be the trade off  in the Tories winning that election – greater environmental protection; intended abolition however of the Human Rights Act! Which is preferable, given that the current voting system still encourages a binary choice between Labour and the Tories?

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