(Adapted from Airport Watch:)
The aviation consultation that had been intended to start sometime between the Budget and the end of March 2012 appears now to have been postponed, to an unspecified date – probably some time after May.
In his Budget speech, George Osborne said: "I also believe this country must confront the lack of airport capacity in the South East of England – we cannot cut ourselves off from the fastest growing cities in the world. The Transport Secretary will set out Government thinking later this summer.”
This appears to have taken the DfT themselves by surprise. It is speculated that the reason may have been disagreement between George Osborne and the Lib Dems, on the desirability of future aviation expansion.
So it appears that the DfT’s Aviation Framework Policy consultation will now take place some time after May this year.
It is thought that there will be two consultation documents and the consultations will run in parallel.
The first consultation is focused on the policy framework and is likely to run for 4 months; the second consultation is a call for evidence on UK hub connectivity which will run for 4-6 months.
Based on Osborne’s budget commitment to ensure the UK remains well connected, it will seek general views on connectivity and the role of a UK hub(s) while inviting any specific proposals on how hub connectivity can be improved (e.g. detailed submissions on Heathrow or alternative proposals such as Thames estuary – they want evidence and specific plans with locations, how it ties in to surface access network etc, not concept designs). Any proposal must also meet the criteria set out in the general framework consultation document.
One reason for the delay over the consultation may be that ministers want to combine the issue of an airport hub, with giving consideration to aircraft emissions policies.
DfT expect the final policy document would appear in March 2013 although it could be published earlier if Ministers wish.
In his Budget speech, George Osborne said:
“We’re the first British government to set out in a National Infrastructure Plan the projects we are going to prioritise in the coming decade."
“The roads, railways, clean energy and water, and broadband networks we need are all identified."
“I also believe this country must confront the lack of airport capacity in the South East of England – we cannot cut ourselves off from the fastest growing cities in the world."
“The Transport Secretary will set out Government thinking later this summer.”