A new round of public consultation has begun after Heathrow airport released its latest plans for expansion, which include options for shortening the length of the proposed third runway.
Heathrow says its latest plans include three shortlisted options for a new north-west runway with varying length between 3,200 and 3,500 metres, which could limit the impact on local residents by changing flight paths into the airport.
The airport released cost-saving changes to its infrastructure plans in December, proposing repositioning new facilities near Terminals 2 and 5 rather than building a new satellite terminal closer to the third runway. It is also seeking public opinion on options for alterations to local roads and a potential change to the positioning of the M25.
The second part of the consultation relates to proposed flight paths. Heathrow has put forward a number of options that include flying over urban areas that are ‘less likely to notice’ noise from aircraft due to existing background noise or routing planes over rural areas with fewer residents.
Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director of expansion, said: “We need feedback to help deliver this opportunity responsibly and to create a long-term legacy both at a local and national level. Heathrow is consulting to ensure that we deliver benefits for our passengers, businesses across the country but also, importantly, for those neighbours closest to us.”
Heathrow Hub, the independent proposal for extending an existing runway rather than building a new one, responded to the latest consultation with scepticism, with a spokesman saying: “It is unbelievable that nearly six years into the process, Heathrow is still producing new ideas. This time, the airport claims it wants to move the M25 150 metres to the west, dig the motorway into the ground, cut the runway length and put it on a ramp. But there is precious little detail on how this will be done in practice, or what the implications will be of closing or restricting the M25. There are no detailed breakdowns of costs and how these will be passed on to passengers and airlines. It is a Heath Robinson Plan.
“Both Chris Grayling and Theresa May are yet again being taken for fools by a major infrastructure provider. They need to demand proper detail from Heathrow and ensure the Department for Transport understand it, rather than letting Heathrow get away with issuing yet more pictures.”
Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger told the Daily Telegraph he thinks Heathrow should issue a “passenger cost guarantee” and promise that the cost of proposed changes won’t be passed on to travellers in the form of higher airport fees.
The public consultation is open until 28 March. Responses can be submitted at one of 40 consultation events, online, or via email or post. The government is expected to vote on a National Policy Statement in the first half of this year, which Heathrow says will establish the framework for its expansion plans.