Heathrow Terminal Five planning process - response to FOI request
The following replies were issued by the Department for Transport in response to a Freedom of Information request regarding the planning process for Heathrow Terminal Five:
1. How was the planning process conducted?
I attach an article prepared by Mr Keith Thorpe, for the Planning Inspectorate Journal, when he was Head of the T5 Inquiry Secretariat at the GOL. This explains the process and administrative procedures employed. It was agreed that the code of conduct for major planning inquiries would apply to all of the applications considered by the Inspector. An internal T5 Secretariat note, also attached, provides further details. The main volume of the Inspector's report (which you have on CD Rom) also briefly describes the conduct of the inquiry process.
2. How was DfT involved?
The DfT gave evidence on most topics considered by the Inquiry. The evidence is summarised in the relevant topic reports accompanying the Inspector's report and the individual witnesses are listed in the relevant Appendices to his report. The main areas where DfT officials gave evidence were Topic 1 (the need for T5), Topic 4 (Surface Access), Topic 5 (Noise), Topic 6 (Air Quality), Topic 7 (Public Safety), Topic 8 (Associated Applications) and Topic 9 (Construction). The Department gave evidence to the Inquiry as a neutral party. There were a number of changes in the organisation of Government during the Inquiry and the subsequent stages leading up to the issue of the decision letter. Initial evidence was given by the then Department of Transport (DOT). In 1997 the DOT became part of the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), and by the time of the decision letter a further reorganisation had created the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR).
3. Do you consider that all parties involved in T5 were considered equally within the planning process?
Yes. The inquiry procedure rules were followed scrupulously which require all parties to be given a full and fair hearing and the evidence of different parties to be given equal weight. Parties could have mounted a legal challenge if they felt they had not received a fair hearing. No such challenge was ever made.
4. Were those in power fair?
The Inspector, Mr Roy Vandermeer QC, appointed to run the Inquiry, and his team of supporting Inspectors, were completely independent and able to make recommendations on the difficult balances of judgement involved in such a long and complex inquiry without any political or Government interference whatsoever.
5. In your opinion was every issue considered before planning permission was granted?
Yes. All of the major parties agreed jointly at the T5 pre-inquiry meetings what issues the Inquiry would consider. Regular meetings were held with parties during the Inquiry itself to review progress on these issues and for additional matters to be covered by the Inquiry if the need arose. It was also open to parties to raise procedural matters relating to the Inquiry's coverage during the hearings.
6. How was the increase in demand for air travel in the UK predicted? In your opinion is this accurate?
The Department produces forecasts of passenger traffic at UK airports on a regular basis. The most recent set were published in May 2000 (Air Traffic Forecasts for the United Kingdom 2000) and were used as the basis for the UK air travel forecasts up to 2030 contained in The Future of Air Transport White Paper published in December 2003. These documents explain what were the main factors driving the forecast increase in demand. As detailed below, these documents are available on the Departments website.
The T5 forecasts were based on the air traffic forecasts published in 1994 (enclosed), which explains the main drivers underpinning the forecast increase in demand. The performance of these and other earlier forecasts was reviewed in the 2000 forecasts. This showed that past forecasts of UK air passengers had proved to be relatively cautious relative to actual outcomes.