Heathrow Runway Expansion Controversy

The following guest post on ‘Heathrow Runway Expansion: Economic Prosperity or Legal Minefield?’ was written for Naylor, Solicitors by Yelena Zagloul.

Plans to build a third runway, in a grand scheme for the expansion of the UK’s largest airport, was given the final stamp of approval by Parliament in June as the House of Commons backed Theresa May in an overwhelming vote in favour of proposals put forth by Heathrow Airport Holdings, Heathrow Hub, and other stakeholders.

The Department for Transport released an Airports National Policy Statement(NPS), outlining (1) the purpose and scope of the NPS, (2) the need for increased airport capacity, (3) the government’s preferred scheme of operations, and (4) other considerations and impact assessments.


The major driving force behind plans to expand Heathrow Airport is the economic prospects which the project promises to deliver.

The Airports Commission: Final Report (2015) provided a comprehensive list of benefits for passengers, related sectors and the local economy, including:

  • Lower travel costs and delays for passengers due to reduced congestion (p. 140)
  • Improved efficiency of services provided to customers (p. 140)
  • Better access to foreign markets, facilitating trade links and competition, leading to increased investment, productivity and innovation in trade-related sectors (p. 142)
  • Increased job opportunities at the airport and throughout its supply chain (p. 144)
  • Economic benefits to the value of £69.1 billion (p. 149)

The Freight Transport Association (FTA), also weighed in on heightened export opportunities for Britain, due to increased capacity for air freight.


On the other hand, the project poses several challenges to the local community – particularly residents, businesses, and the surrounding habitat and environment – including forced relocations, noise and air pollution, and other disruptions caused by planned construction works.

The four main boroughs affected (Wandsworth, Richmond, Fulham, Hillingdon and Hammersmith) along with Sadiq Khan and NGOs such as Greenpeace have all vowed to challenge the plans with legal action.

Proposed Remedies and Compensation Schemes

Heathrow is mandated to provide an appropriate amount of compensation to the local communities affected, including financial and other undertakings to remedy the negative impacts caused.

The NPS (p. 85) also includes the government’s expectations of Heathrow in terms of its compensation schemes, community engagement and legal obligations.

Statutory protections are available, such as statutory blight; whereby residential and agricultural land owners in an area identified as ‘Annex A’ are entitled to make a claim.

Compensation is also available for lost value on a property due to development during construction, according to the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965, and for loss of value due to the operation of an expanded airport, as per Part 1 of the Land Compensation Act 1973, after one year of operation.

Heathrow has committed to providing enhanced compensation schemes, including a ‘property bond scheme’ and ‘property hardship scheme’.

How can Naylor Solicitors help you?

Naylor Solicitors is a boutique London law firm specialising in real estate litigation. The firm is experienced and well-equipped to advise on many of the legal issues arising out of the Heathrow expansion plans.

Whether a dispute arises concerning entitlements to adequate compensation for relocation, noise pollution or the scope of statutory protections for residential and commercial property owners, Naylor, Solicitors can assist.

Please contact us to arrange a consultation.