The government is to reopen the public consultation into the third runway at Heathrow but has insisted that this will not further delay a parliamentary vote.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling has already pushed back a vote on the government’s Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), which will clear the way for Heathrow expansion, until the first half of 2018 due to the timing of “snap” election in June.
The holding of the election campaign during the final weeks of the airports consultation period also meant that revised forecasts on aviation demand and a final air quality plan could not be included in the original consultation process.
Grayling said: “It was intended these documents would be presented for consideration during the initial consultation, but the timing of the general election meant this was not possible.
“I am therefore confirming that there is a need to conduct a short period of further consultation to allow this updated evidence to be taken into account. This further consultation will focus mainly on the specific elements of the NPS affected, and is expected to begin later this year.”
Although the government is backing a third runway at Heathrow – high-profile critics of the project in the cabinet, such as foreign secretary Boris Johnson, will still be allowed to campaign against expansion.
“This government remains committed to realising the benefits that airport expansion could bring and I can confirm that we do not expect this additional period of consultation to impact on the timetable for parliamentary scrutiny of the NPS,” added Grayling.