Application reference: F/19/86707
As you will recall, in November 2019 Southampton Airport submitted a planning application (F/19/86707) to Eastleigh Borough Council seeking permission for a 164-metre extension to the northern end of our runway. As Operations Director at the airport, below is an update on our progress, including how we have responded to queries regarding noise mitigation.
Responding to Feedback
Since the submission of our application, both the airport and the Council have continued to review feedback received during the consultation. As is normal for a planning application of this kind, we have continued to discuss additional updates, modifications, and clarifications that could further improve the proposals in response to matters raised.
Throughout, we have listened carefully to the community and have sought to respond positively to the views of Council Officers, stakeholders, and residents. In July 2020, we set out a number of evolutions and amendments the airport made to its plans as a result of the initial public consultations, including a Revised Surface Access Strategy that will place a highways cap on the number of vehicles arriving at Southampton Airport each year, as well implement additional measures to encourage passengers to access the airport via public transport.
Responding to noise management measures
More recently, Eastleigh Borough Council requested that we consider what further steps could be taken to manage and mitigate potential noise from the proposed runway extension. In response, we have now put forward a further proposal geared to limit the effects of aircraft noise upon residents and schools using a ‘noise cap’.
We have now provided additional information to Eastleigh Borough Council which shows the aircraft noise effects if passenger numbers grow by 50% from 2 million to 3 million passengers per annum. This is significantly less than in the original application which was 150% to 5 million passengers per annum, so the new information shows significantly reduced noise impacts.
We expect this information to be used by the Council to propose a maximum noise cap on the airport, as part of the S106 agreement, that will limit noise impacts over a geographic area. It is a significant change, as our application would provide a positive control over noise that does not currently exist.
It will be for the Council to determine the exact noise cap when it determines our planning application. Should the runway extension be approved with this noise limit, we anticipate that these maximum noise levels would not be reached until 2033.
Noise Insulation Policy
Additionally, following feedback during the consultation, we are also improving the value of compensation being offered as part of the proposed Noise Insulation Policy beyond the industry standard. We will be taking steps to proactively invite residents to apply when they qualify and offering to assist with the application process.
To view all of the new information we have submitted regarding noise, please visit Eastleigh Borough Council’s dedicated runway web page:– https://www.eastleigh.gov.uk/planning-and-building/southampton-airport-planning-application – which you can also find using the application reference F/19/86707.
Survival of the airport
Our proposed runway extension remains fundamental to the commercial viability of the airport. Following the loss of Flybe, and the disposal of its planes, there is no longer an airline of any significant scale operating in the UK domestic or short-haul international market with a fleet that Southampton Airport can accommodate without the extension. Easyjet, Ryanair, Wizz, Jet 2 and the other major players all now run fleets mainly comprising Airbus A320s (or similar scale), which cannot be accommodated at present (other than on short routes in the winter which are not viable in isolation). Ultimately, the runway extension is the only way the connectivity that we have offered to date can be sustained and thereby secure our future.
We have worked hard to look at ways in which the effects of the proposal can be minimised whilst the airport is able to continue to function and make a critical contribution to the economic and social well-being of the South Solent region. We have indicated to the Council that we agree to caps on traffic and noise that will constrain growth to roughly 50% above the 2018 operations which we hope demonstrates our commitment to being a considerate neighbour and member of the community.
Why our application matters
- The proposed runway extension remains fundamental to the commercial survival of the airport
- Following the loss of Flybe, and the disposal of its planes, there is no longer an airline of any significant scale operating in the UK domestic or short-haul international market with a fleet that Southampton Airport can accommodate without the extension
- We are now only able to offer 10 routes compared to our usual 35
- With our short runway, we are no longer handling enough routes and traffic to remain viable
Following our submission of additional noise information, Eastleigh Borough Council has re-opened the consultation window to allow residents to provide further feedback. We then anticipate that a decision on our runway extension application will be made by the Eastleigh Local Area Committee before Christmas.
I hope that you have found this update useful and would encourage you to offer your support for our runway extension plans on Eastleigh’s planning file. In the meantime, if you have any further questions, or wish for any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.