Airport Master Plans Guidance - Regulatory Impact Assessment
1. Title of Proposal
Guidance for Airport Operators on the Preparation of Airport Master Plans
2. Purpose and intended effect of measure
(i) The Objective
- To assist airport operators in producing airport master plans setting out their proposals for major infrastructure development, taking into account the conclusions of the White Paper The Future of Air Transport.
- Master plans will play an important role in indicating how airport operators propose to take forward the conclusions on the future development at individual airports supported by the White Paper. They will inform the local and regional planning processes and enable local people, businesses and other stakeholders to be aware of the proposals.
- The guidance offers suggestions for the content and structure of airport master plans and suggests a process for their preparation; it also indicates the airports which might most usefully produce master plans.
- The White Paper The Future of Air Transport (Cm 6046, December 2003) states:
"Airport operators are recommended to maintain a master plan document detailing development proposals. An airport master plan does not have development plan status, but the level of detail contained within it is essential to inform the content of the Local Development Framework. We will expect airport operators to produce master plans or, where appropriate, to update existing master plans to take account of the conclusions on future development set out in this White Paper." (paragraphs 12.7, 12.8)
- The White Paper recognises that master plans will not have any statutory basis. But the Government envisages that they should provide a clear statement of intent on the part of an airport operator that will enable its future development to be given due consideration in local and regional planning processes.
- The Government believes that the preparation of airport master plans will also offer a range of other benefits:-
- they will provide an indication of an airport operator's plans for infrastructure development in the light of the high-level strategic policy framework for each airport in the White Paper, and therefore bring greater clarity and certainty for all those affected or with an interest;
- they will inform long term resource planning for local and regional players, particularly in the preparation of strategies and local plans;
- they will make a useful tool for communicating to a range of stakeholders, including airlines, funding institutions, local authority and other local interests, to allow them to make well informed investment decisions;
- they will help airport operators to make clear at an early stage the key milestones of their development projects such as the submission of a planning application, construction and opening; and
- they will provide a consistent and publicly recognised vehicle for the Government, devolved administrations and their agencies to assess progress being made in delivering the White Paper at each airport.
- The guidance for airport operators clarifies the required scope of a master plan. It is designed to encourage broad consistency between the master plans of different airports but allows sufficient flexibility to reflect local circumstances in the scale and timing of development proposals at individual airports.
- There is at present inconsistency in the various approaches to master plan production adopted by different airports - many operators have traditionally viewed a master plan as a two-dimensional land use plan and short (mainly descriptive) supporting statement; in some cases the master plan is purely an in-house document. There is also evidence of inconsistency in airport operators' interpretations of what the White Paper expects of them in terms of master plan preparation - this has been confirmed by soundings amongst airports, their customers and a number of stakeholders since publication of the White Paper.
- Without guidance in master plan production, airport operators may produce master plans that do not fulfil any of the roles listed above. In particular, in some cases regional and local planning documents will not adequately be able to take account of the future role of a major facility, the growth of which will have significant implications in terms of land use planning, surface transport, employment, housing and environmental impacts. Local residents, businesses and other stakeholders may have little clear indication of the proposed expansion of an airport and how the resulting impacts would affect them.
- Many smaller airports are currently unsure about whether or not they should produce a master plan because no size distinctions were made in the relevant section of the White Paper. Appropriate thresholds, based on the White Paper's conclusions on development at individual airports and forecast air transport movements in 2030, have been determined during development of the guidance.
- In drawing up guidance on the preparation of master plans three alternative approaches were considered, the relative merits of which are assessed below. Any of the three would result in significant expenditure for the airport concerned, which we have sought to quantify. To counterbalance this, we believe that the preparation of master plans will potential long-term savings for airports through the more efficient operation of the planning system. These savings are difficult to quantify, but potentially significant.
- The concept of master plans was implicitly taken into account amongst the costs for airport operators in the Regulatory Impact Assessment which accompanied the White Paper, and should not therefore be seen as an additional burden. The expectation to produce or update master plans was introduced by the White Paper; in producing guidance on their preparation, the Department is attempting to clarify what is expected and ensure that the benefits of master plans for a range of interested parties are delivered. In doing so, we have been mindful of the need to ensure that their production does not become an excessively onerous task for the airport operators.
- The options considered for the master plans guidance were as follows:-
A. 'Do nothing'
- Under this option no guidance would be published, leaving airport operators at liberty to exercise their own judgement on the format and content of master plans, albeit subject to the expectation that they would comply with the broadly-based wording in the White Paper.
B. Advise airport operators on the broad content of their master plans.
- Under this option, DfT guidance would suggest a flexible structure for master plans. It would indicate that most of the subjects listed under the option C below should be addressed, although there would be no call for detailed economic appraisal to be undertaken unless public funding was to be sought. The guidance would, however, indicate a more closely-defined group of core components desirable for inclusion in all airports' master plans (comprising forecasts, infrastructure proposals, safeguarding and landtake, surface access initiatives and mitigation proposals) and a wider range of optional elements. The inclusion of these would be dependent upon the circumstances at individual airports, such as the scale of any development proposals and the existence of any significant local constraints.
- This option would also introduce a further layer of flexibility in suggesting that, where major infrastructure schemes are unlikely to be brought forward within the next ten years, no detailed assessment of them need be undertaken in the master plan. This acknowledges that proposals which will come to fruition so far in the future bring with them considerable uncertainties and that consequently there is likely to be little value in working them up in any degree of detail.
C. Establish a standard format for publicly available master plans.
- Guidance would set out a rigid, formal structure for master plans with the expectation that this should be adopted in full by all relevant airports. Operators would be expected to set out in detail their development proposals for the period to 2015 and an outline indication of their planning to 2030, under the following headings:-
- airport's current position
- passenger and ATM forecasts
- capacity requirements
- option development and appraisal, including surface access schemes
- preparation of detailed plans for preferred options
- appraisal of impacts on the environment and people o schemes to address blight, mitigation and compensation
- financial and economic appraisal of development proposals
- indicative land use plans for the period from 2016 to 2030.
4. Benefits and costs
- Airports would be at liberty to determine the form and content of master plans, and hence to a large degree the amount of expenditure necessary to comply with the White Paper's expectations. They may accordingly prove unwilling to allocate significant funds for master plan production.
(i) Compliance Costs
- We estimate the sector-wide costs of this option to be in the order of £5 million.
- Businesses in the aviation sector (airlines, maintenance providers etc) and sectors heavily dependent on air accessibility (such as the engineering, electronics and pharmaceuticals sectors) will not benefit from knowledge of operators' long-term plans and will be unable to make local investment decisions in confidence.
(ii) Other Costs
- This would result in airport operators producing master plans that are inconsistent in format and content and provide little or no certainty of their intentions in taking forward the proposals supported in the White Paper. In place of the potential benefits for airlines, investors, local stakeholders and the airport operators themselves identified in Section 2, there is likely to be non-statutory blight and other negative impacts associated with uncertainty.
- There is likely to be little consistency of approach among airport operators in the absence of guidance.
- Some airports will continue to produce master plans in a somewhat basic format with little supporting documentation, which are will prove of little value in informing the local and regional planning process.
- This would result in operators producing master plans that are less consistent but do provide some certainty. A large amount of flexibility in the advice allows operators some scope to determine the degree of burden that they are prepared to accept, and, in some circumstances, flexibility as to the timing of the expenditure. However, there would still be considerable scope for variation between master plans, reducing their effectiveness as tools for monitoring progress in delivery of the White Paper. Some of the potential benefits may not be fully realised and any remaining uncertainty could still result in non-statutory blight and negative impacts.
This option would ensure that airport master plans fulfil all of the roles required of them, allowing all of the possible benefits listed in Section 2(ii) to be harnessed.
- The proposed master plan structure advocated by the guidance would ensure that the key components of each airport's infrastructure development proposals are brought forward in good time and at a sufficient level of detail to inform the local and regional planning process. In suggesting core and optional components it should ensure a consistent approach to master plan production while retaining scope for the flexibility necessary to reflect the differing scale and timescales of development schemes at individual airports and the differing local constraints which will apply.
- In not seeking to adopt too prescriptive an approach and not requesting the inclusion of elements such as detailed economic appraisal, this approach is not excessively burdensome on airport operators and will ensure that disproportionate time is not spent on master plan production.
- All of the work necessary to prepare a master plan will also be necessary to inform the preparation of a planning application. The production of a master plan to the proposed DfT specifications would entail undertaking this work at an earlier stage. This offers the opportunity to identify potentially contentious issues and trigger points at an earlier stage in the planning process, and in the longer term may offer benefits, which are difficult to quantify, in the improved efficiency of the planning process.
- Similarly, the master plan preparation process may help to identify contentious issues at an early stage and offers scope to reduce the elements which are examined in detail at a public local inquiry.
- A detailed master plan in this form provides a clear indication of the location and nature of future developments. This not only benefits the airport but also local stakeholders and the public, who will not be faced with extended periods of uncertainty following publication of the White Paper.
- Businesses in the aviation sector (airlines, maintenance providers etc) and sectors heavily dependent on air accessibility (such as the engineering, electronics and pharmaceuticals sectors) will benefit from knowledge of airport operators' long-term plans and will be able to make local investment decisions earlier and with a greater degree of certainty.
(i) Compliance Costs
- Consultancy costs will vary between airports but estimated orders of magnitude are given in the table below.
Airports (IATA codes)
Expected consultancy costs for each airport*
LHR, STN, LGW, MAN, BHX, GLA, EDI, LTN
£500,000 - £1,000,000
NCL, BRS, CWL, BFS, LIV, LBA, LCY, ABZ, EMA
£200,000 - £300,000
BHD, BLK, BOH, EXT, FIN, HUY, INV, NQY, NWI, PIK, SOU, MME
£50,000 - £100,000