On 10th April 2021, Eastleigh’s Full Council resolved by a decisive majority to approve Southampton Airport’s proposals to extend our runway by 164 m, subject to finalising a Section 106 Agreement.
Public support was central to that positive outcome, so I want to thank everyone who supported the airport during the public consultations. My staff and I remain humbled that our plans received more than 60% backing from the local community, including a majority of support from people living in Eastleigh postcodes SO50 and SO53.
The extension became a critical issue for Southampton Airport in March 2020, following the collapse of Flybe, which had previously provided 89% of our passengers. The extension, while short and falling entirely within our current boundaries, is crucial to our viability as a regional airport because it will make the airport economical for a wider range of airlines, allowing us to attract the passengers we need to secure our future.
Since the Full Council vote in April, Southampton Airport has been working with Eastleigh Borough Council and Hampshire County Council to finalise the Section 106 Agreement, a legal document that sets out how the longer runway can be built and operated. I am pleased to announce that the Secretary of State has not called in the application and the Section 106 Agreement has now been signed, which means that full planning permission has been formally granted.
The signing of the Section 106 Agreement also confirms a number of conditions that we discussed with the community and with Eastleigh Borough Council during the public consultations, including:
- The cap on growth to no more than 3 million passengers per year(which we would not expect to reach until 2033). The Section 106 Agreement provides that the cap will be enforced by new controls on noise and vehicle movements, thereby granting Eastleigh Borough Council more control over the airport than it had before.
- Provision of an enhanced noise insulation scheme for homes and public buildings, that goes beyond the industry standard.
Now that the Section 106 Agreement is approved, we are eager to get on and deliver this essential project, which will create jobs and secure economic benefits for the Central South region. Sadly though, the permission may still be subject to a legal challenge. I would encourage the opposition groups not to seek any further delay to the delivery of the construction phase – and the 265 jobs that go with it – by seeking to challenge the permission.
Unemployment is at record levels after the pandemic and the region desperately needs these jobs as soon as possible. Further prevarication will not necessarily change the ultimate decision, but it will delay the benefits that the region desperately needs.
On a practical level, the Section 106 Agreement means that the airport can now start planning the both the construction of the runway extension and the roll-out of the growth cap and noise insulation conditions. This will take some time to organise, but we are committed to keeping the community up to date, so please visit our website – supportsouthamptonairport.com – for more information, FAQs, and to register for updates.