Heathrow airport has unveiled its masterplan for expansion as it launches a 12-week public consultation on the project to build a third runway.

The proposal lays out the airport’s plan for its expansion, including the new runway and other infrastructure such as terminals and road access. Heathrow claims it can build and open the third runway by 2026, but the total transformation project could last beyond 2050, according to the masterplan.

Under the plans, the A4 and A3044 roads will be diverted and the M25 will be “realigned” to make way for the third runway. Rivers will also be rerouted, with new drainage and pollution control areas to be provided in the northwest, southwest and south of the airport.

Other projects include new airside and landside bus and coach parking facilities and a multi-story car park as well as the T5X terminal west of T5A, which will provide extra piers and taxiways.

Post-2050, T2 will be expanded and T3 will also be redeveloped.

Heathrow says that as construction support sites are no longer needed, they will be returned to green space throughout the runway’s development.

The plans have already received criticism from campaign groups, with Stop Heathrow Expansion saying the extra parking facilities will “quash” the airport’s environmental credentials.

Last month, Heathrow announced plans to introduce a vehicle access charge in an effort to curb carbon emissions from cars driving around the airport.

Stop Heathrow Expansion campaign coordinator Robert Barnstone said: “Heathrow’s plans are laughable. 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. Looking to the next period ahead, Heathrow still has major legal hurdles to overcome – at the planning stage – where local authorities, the mayor of London and environmental groups will be launching action, as per the advice of the judges in the most recent case.

“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.”

The airport won a legal challenge in the High Court in May, but Heathrow Hub, which submitted its own proposal for expansion, says it plans to appeal.

A spokesman for Heathrow Hub said: “This third runway plan is the ultimate £30 billion unicorn and the next prime minister – presumably Boris Johnson – should cancel it. The idea Heathrow can get it across the M25 right next to the M4 junction without causing years of delays is fanciful. The costs – to be borne by passengers and airlines – are evidently spiralling out of control. And the project is hugely environmentally damaging. Far better to build our cheaper, greener, quieter extended runway instead. Politicians need to rediscover that, so often in life, the simplest compromise solution is best.”

The consultation will run until 13 September and will also seek the public’s opinion on how the expanded Heathrow should operate, including elements such as night flights and how additional services could be operated on the existing runways until the new one opens.

It is also trying to determine how to manage the impact of the expansion on the surrounding communities, including property compensation for households that will be displaced by the new runway, noise insulation and mitigating the effects on the environment.

Commenting on the release of the masterplan, 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.”

The news comes after climate activist group Extinction Rebellion called off protests that were due to launch today.

Heathrow’s consultation will involve the use of technology to demonstrate to the public what an expanded airport could look and sound like.

aec.heathrowconsultation.com

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