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Exclusive | Heathrow’s imminent big decisions


The position and length of a third runway at Heathrow airport are the priority decisions for the team planning its third runway, expansion director Phil Wilbraham has revealed.

In an exclusive interview with New Civil Engineer, Wilbraham laid out the timeframe for the big decisions on Heathrow, which will form the final two or three options for the expansion plan going out for consultation this summer.

Finalising the position and length of the runway is the most pressing decision. Current dimensions of 3,500m x 50m could change as the design team finds the best way to future-proof the runway for newer aircraft.

“The key to this is that we’re short of runway capacity, so ultimately we want to get the runway in place as soon as we sensibly can,” said Wilbraham.

Changes to the M25 are needed as the new runway crosses the motorway; diverting the motorway through a tunnel or elevating the runway over the road are two options being considered.

Innovative terminal designs are also being discussed, including a “lightweight canopy” housing shops and restaurants which would be a crossover of an indoor and outdoor space. It would need less heating and cooling, making it greener and cheaper.

“That is something completely new and innovative, and would change the feel of terminal buildings probably forever,” said Wilbraham.

Heathrow Airport Ltd’s consultation, which is separate to the government’s draft Airports National Policy Statement consultation currently underway, will let the airport’s partners and the local community have a say on its expansion plans.

In 2018 there will be a second consultation on the finalised expansion plan, before an application for planning permission is made in 2019.

More details are revealed in an exclusive interview with New Civil Engineer.

See Phil Wilbraham live

  • Phil Wilbraham will be speaking at New Civil Engineer’s Airports Conference in London on 18 May. Quote NCEREADER to claim a 15% discount. Click here for more information.

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