HEATHROW has resurrected Third Runway plans, with thousands of homes in Heathrow Villages once again in the firing line.
Heathrow today (Wednesday) submitted to the Government's Airport Commission three sets of proposals it says would deliver the extra hub airport capacity needed for the long term, for a fraction of the cost of building a brand new airport.
Of the three locations for the new runway, two are located to the north of the existing airport, and would require the compulsory purchase and demolition of homes in Hillingdon.
The first runway option proposed is to the north west (pictured), and would result in the displacement of around 950 homeowners in Harmondsworth, Harmondsworh Moor and Longford. The historic Great Barn and St Mary's Church in Harmondsworth would be under direct threat, but John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow's Development Director, said that the airport would look at ways to preserve these landmarks should the government go for this option. This could be ready for 2029, says Heathrow.
The second proposed runway site, in the Stanwell Moor area to the south-west of the airport, would be more costly and take longer to build, but there would be less impact on surrounding communities.
The final proposal would cover Sipson, Harlington and Cranford, and require the demolition of an estimated 2,700 homes. It would be the least costly and the quickest to build, but Heathrow favour the westerly locations.
The runways being proposed, up to 3,500 metres long, are nearly double that of those on the previous Third Runway plans which were scrapped in 2010.
Heathrow maintains that in each case, the additional runway would allow airport to accomodate up to 740,000 flights a year, up from 480,000 as it is now, and the noise footprint would be up to 20 per cent lower than it is now, even with the extra runway and aircraft movements. This is possible because a runway to west would mean that planes are higher over London.
Each would cost £14-18billion, and it is estimated that a new runway would add £100billion to Britain's economy.
Heathrow says that the homes subject to a compulsory purchase order would be bought for more than market value, and blight would be minimised by the introduction of a property bond scheme.
The submission will be considered by the Davies Airports Commission, set up by the government to look into the most viable ways to increase hub airport capacity and improve international connectivity. It is accepting submissions from interested parties until Friday (July 18), and is due to make recommendations on where and how additional airport infrastructure should be provided in 2015, after the next general election.
Nigel Milton, the Airport's Director of Community Relations, said that the Government should act sooner rather than later, so the affected communities know where they stand.
"We totally understand the anxiety these proposals will cause, and we will be encouraging the commission to come to a decision as quickly as possible, so we don't have years and years of uncertainty like before.
"These are just proposals, and nothing is set in stone yet."
Colin Matthews, Heathrow's Chief Executive, said: "The best solution for taxpayers, passengers and business is to build on the strength we already have at Heathrow. We are showing how that vision can be achieved whilst keeping the impact on local residents to an absolute minimum."
These words will ring hollow for those in Heathrow Villages who may face another fight on their hands, in spite of successful attempts to rebuild their community, left shattered by the previous failed Third Runway proposals.
Hillingdon Council has long been of the opinion that another runway at Heathrow is a non-starter because, amongst other reasons, the environmental impacts it would bring, but Heathrow is confident that expansion can be achieved whilst meeting EU climate change targets.
Asked why these latest proposals would not be rejected like the previous third runway bid, Mr Matthews said: "These options are different and better, and the independent commission will be looking at this objectively, which puts us in a good position to have our arguments heard fairly."
Send your reaction to Heathrow's Third Runway proposals for the Airports Commission to email@example.com