Heathrow Airport expansion revealed with third runway to be finished in next SEVEN years

HEATHROW Airport's expansion plans have been revealed – with the contentious third runway set to open in 2026.

The plan includes lowering the M25 for the third runway to cross, diverting rivers and moving roads – as angry campaigners warn of the environmental impact.

Heathrow's expansion has faced fierce opposition, notably from Boris Johnson, but the airport said it had engaged with local communities and other stakeholders.

The proposals are now open to public consultation until September 13.

Mr Johnson, the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May, said only four years ago he would "lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of [that] third runway".

But when the plan was put up for vote in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson hopped on a plane to Afghanistan to meet the country’s president and deputy foreign minister.

The visit lasted one day and cost the Government just under £20,000.

Now, with the PM job in sight, Boris has hinted he will drop his longstanding opposition to the third runway.

Asked by Greg Hands yesterday when he would cancel the scheme if he became PM, Mr Johnson said it had now been approved by Parliament at a cost of £14billion.

Last month the High Court dismissed five legal challenges to the approval of the runway, including one brought by a consortium of local authorities, Greenpeace and Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, on air quality, climate change and noise pollution grounds.

Friends Of The Earth, which brought one of the challenges, said it would appeal.

After the construction of the runway in 2026, plans for the rest expansion – including new terminals and access – will be completed by around 2050, the same year the UK is legally bound to end its contribution to climate change.

Plans include the re-routing of a 12-lane section of the M25 into a tunnel under the new runway and diverting rivers.

New locations have also been marked out for places such as Harmondsworth Primary School and Heathrow Special Needs Centre, which will be moved within the first phase.

Plans to mitigate the effects of expansion include property compensation, noise insulation funding, improved public transport links and a 6.5-hour ban on scheduled night flights.

In all, 761 homes are expected to be ripped down, including the entire village of Longford.

Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow's executive director for expansion, said: "Expansion must not come at any cost.

"That is why we have been working with partners at the airport, in local communities and in Government to ensure our plans show how we can grow sustainably and responsibly – with environmental considerations at the heart of expansion.

"This consultation is an opportunity for people to have their say on our preferred masterplan, so it's really important that as many people as possible take part. We look forward to hearing your views."

Robert Barnstone, campaign co-ordinator of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said he found the plans "laughable".

He said:"Not only does it want to disrupt people's lives for up to 30 years whilst building this new runway, but now proposes jumbo-size car parks whilst pledging to reduce the number of people using cars at the airport."

John Stewart, chair of Hacan, another campaigning group opposed to Heathrow’s expansion, said while the plan for the third runway was advancing it was not yet a done deal.

He said: "The impact on local people could be severe for many years to come. Disruption from construction; the demolition of homes; the reality of more than 700 extra planes a day."


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Paul Beckford from the No 3rd Runway Coalition, added: "Heathrow will claim this is the largest consultation ever and that may well be right.

"However, this simply reflects the sheer scale of the impact that their expansion plans will have on local communities."

Mr Beckford said "incredibly" it appears Heathrow wants to "spread the misery of their expansion plans over a 30-year period, inflicting the blight of construction and the resultant increases in air and noise pollution on communities across London for decades".

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