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Artist’s impression of the new masterplan for expansion at Heathrow airport. Photograph: PA

Heathrow third runway expansion plans revealed

Plans unveiled to lower M25 and reroute rivers as campaigners warn of environmental impact

WT24 Desk

The scale of the disruption from Heathrow airport’s expansion project has been revealed with the publication of detailed plans to lower the M25 for the third runway to cross, reroute rivers, replace utilities and relocate enormous car parks, The Guardian reports.

A 12-week public consultation opened on Tuesday at 8am, with campaigners warning of the severe impact for years to come of more than 700 extra planes in the sky after 2026, when the runway is due to open.

Heathrow said expansion should “not come at any cost” and has outlined plans for low-emission zones and congestion charges to stem local air pollution. It plans to expand in phases up to 2050 with new terminal buildings added after the runway as passenger numbers grow to keep airport charges and fares down after airlines complained about the projected cost.

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

Emma Gilthorpe, the executive director for Expansion, urged local people to participate in the consultation and make their views heard.

She 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.”

However, campaigners said the proposals would lead to swathes of green belt land around the airport being used for buildings to support a third runway, including a huge new car park for the airport to the north of Sipson village.

Heathrow has committed not to have any more cars using the airport with expansion, and said it was consolidating existing space, including car parks where the new runway will go.

Robert Barnstone, of Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “Not only does it want to disrupt people’s lives for up to 30 years while building this new runway but now proposes jumbo-size car parks while pledging to reduce the number of people using cars at the airport.

“The new prime minister, whoever that may be, will have to face up to the fact that Heathrow expansion cannot meet legal environmental requirements and will therefore not be able to proceed in the long term.”

John Stewart, the chair of Hacan, the campaign group that opposes a third runway, said: “What hits you is the scale of these proposals. 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.”

The consultation is a statutory requirement of the planning process, after parliament gave Britain’s major airport the go-ahead for a third runway. Heathrow’s final plans, incorporating public responses, will be put to planning inquiry inspectors next year. Their recommendation will be put to the transport secretary to give the final approval in 2021.

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