The Challenge

The Airports Commission was set up by the Coalition Government in November 2012 as an independent body to examine the scale and timing of any requirement for additional capacity to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub. It was tasked with identifying and evaluating how any need for additional capacity should be met in the short, medium and long term.

The detailed appraisal outputs for the three shortlisted options were published by the Airports Commission on 11 November 2014, and the public were invited to comment. The consultation period lasted for 12 weeks until 3 February 2015.

The Commission sought views on the three options for a new runway, and on its assessments of these options. In particular, the Commission wanted to test the evidence base it had assembled, understand stakeholders' views as to the accuracy, relevance and breadth of the assessments it had undertaken, and seek views on the potential conclusions that might be drawn from them. It was also interested in receiving evidence and ideas about how any or all of the short-listed options might be enhanced or improved, for instance through mitigation measures to address specific impacts.

The Airports Commission required support throughout the process, and ultimately analysis and reporting of the consultation responses.

SYSTRA's Role

The Airports Commission asked SYSTRA to support their public consultation on the three shortlisted runway options.

Our project team worked closely with the Airports Commission to understand the objectives of their consultation and the analytical requirements the Commission wanted SYSTRA to fulfil. This allowed us to develop both a refined methodological approach (which was further refined in the course of the analysis) and a comprehensive resource plan, because timescale for delivery emerged as a critical issue given the high public profile of the work.

SYSTRA developed a comprehensive, bespoke logging and analysis tool to log, process and code all responses received, whether via the online response form or by email or post; in total over 70,000 responses were received. SYSTRA also set up and managed a telephone helpline and email query service throughout the consultation. We were involved in refining the consultation questions and offered advice on all aspects of the consultation. We also prepared a final report for the Commission which informed their reporting to the Government on the shortlisted options. The whole process was peer reviewed.