Airport expansion, visitors and protecting special places

The Davies Commission’s consultation on options for airport expansion in the south east of England has just ended. The Commission put forward three options – one at Gatwick and two at Heathrow. We’ve just sent in our response that focuses on the noise impacts on places nearby – including our places like Osterley or Leith Hill. Given our core purpose of looking after special places forever for everyone, we think the noise and other impacts are too great for us to change our previous opposition to expansion.

But we’re also about opening up places for people to enjoy, and much of the rise in demand for flying is about the widening of people’s horizons (helped by rising prosperity). I’d be interested in people’s views about how we reconcile protecting the specialness of our places – including the relief they offer from the busyness of the modern world – with providing the opportunity for everyone to explore new places.

if you’ve got any thoughts on this, do get in touch (

Our submission also points to the difficulty of “depoliticised” processes like this in assessing what we should do about big new developments. We’ve faced the challenge of dealing with a mass of economic and other modelling on three different options. Modelling is much more developed for economic impacts. But on climate, the Commission seems to have ducked some of the difficult modelling of what expansion would mean for the UK’s climate targets, and the Committee on Climate Change has reminded them of the importance of doing this for their final report in summer 2015.

We’re also doubtful of how much the quality of life assessment in the consultation really informs their conclusions. It’s welcome that it’s included, but the bundling together of very different factors makes firm conclusions difficult to draw. You can read more on this in our response below.

Richard Hebditch, External Affairs Director

02 2015 – Airports Commission – Consultation on shortlisted options – NT consultation response


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