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Heathrow’s runway plan challenged by new report

Heathrow planes 3.2

An alternative expansion plan at Heathrow could cost a third less than the plans submitted by Heathrow Airport, new analysis has revealed.

The analysis was carried out by independent group Heathrow Hub, which has proposed an alternative expansion plan to extend the existing northern runway, creating two runways with a 650m gap in between rather than build an entirely new third runway.

Heathrow Hub said that its new analysis, which has been submitted to the Department for Transport, showed that the cost of its scheme had reduced to £9.7bn, which it said was a third less than Heathrow Airport’s own estimate for its third runway scheme of £15.6bn.

It said that a unique feature of its proposal was that the project could be phased. Phase one, it said, would involve extending the runway and implementing local road changes, including building a new section of the M25 to the west to skirt round the extended runway, which would cost £3.8bn. 

The group said that this phase alone would increase the airport’s capacity by around 70,000 aircraft movements while allowing average user charges to remain the same as today at approximately £20 per passenger. Heathrow Hub predicted that this would be in direct contrast to the sharp increases that would result from both Heathrow Airport’s third runway concept and from Gatwick’s second runway proposal.

This lower cost to build the extended runway, it said, would allow for potential mitigation and compensation measures.

“The simplicity of Heathrow Hub’s plan, which requires far less land and is much less disruptive to existing local facilities, means that costs are dramatically lower than those for a third runway,” said Heathrow Hub director Jock Lowe. “For example, our plans would not see the M25 disrupted at all while the modifications are completed, which is not the case with Heathrow Airport’s own third runway proposal.

“Another major advantage of our scheme over Heathrow Airport’s is that construction can be phased, meaning that costs can be spread and runway capacity released only as noise and air quality targets are met and demand requires.”

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