One of the remarkable things about the establishment of the Airports Commission is how it has brought coherence to the debate on airport capacity and as an independent body established a level of trust between the different players in that debate.
It has managed to do this by establishing the basis of the need for airport capacity, and testing its findings widely through open consultation. It sought submissions from different groups and airports on proposals to meet that need and followed this up with public evidence sessions. It published the framework it intends to use to judge final options for airport expansion and again, tested this widely though open consultation.
It followed this up by publishing its emerging thinking one year on and again, sought views and comments on whether or not it ignored anything as part of its analysis.
In line with the remit set out by the Government, the Commission published an interim assessment of what action was needed in the short term and also a short list of options to meet long term capacity requirements.
This separation of analysis from final decision making has allowed an extensive amount of public consultation to be undertaken and has resulted in the major players (including airports which haven't been shortlisted) still remaining supportive of the process.
As we noted in another blog earlier this week,
“Governments don't want to highlight that they know a problem exists without having a solution to address it”
By moving the analysis of the problem to a separate entity this allows the Government to take a final decision on the basis of widely trusted analysis.
In our submission today (available below) to the Airports Commission on their Discussion Paper 7 on the delivery of a new runway, we noted the importance of this separation.
The Government was right to establish the Airports Commission as an independent body to undertake the required analysis; the independence of this analysis and its interpretation should be maintained within the Airports Commission until a final decision is taken.
We believe the Airports Commission should remain in place until the final National Policy Statement on Aviation is designated by the Secretary of State, this would also allow the Airports Commission to publicly comment on whether or not the final NPS matches their analysis and recommendations.
On Monday we will publish our proposals for a UK Infrastructure Authority, this would expand the excellent work done by the Airports Commission to other infrastructure sectors and ensure that all debates on infrastructure can take place in this more streamlined and trusted way.
EEF submission - Discussion Paper 07 - delivery of new runway capacity - Airports Commission.pdf (86.41 kb)