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The likelihood of this passing may be higher than the last time around, but Heathrow’s is still moving too slow to keep Gulf carriers or even German ones in its rear-view mirror.
Heathrow’s bosses are laying out revised plans for expansion that they will submit to the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission.
The proposals could lead to those dropping off passengers at Heathrow by car being subject to a congestion charge once transport improvements around the airport are finished.
Heathrow’s revised submission also includes an improved compensation plan for those affected by the building of a third runway at Heathrow, should such an expansion get the go-ahead from the commission.
Heathrow is allocating £550m for noise insulation and property compensation and will launch a consultation with local people on proposals this summer. About 750 homes would need to be compulsorily purchased to provide space for a third runway.
The airport is proposing compensation of 25% above unblighted market value plus stamp duty costs and all legal fees in relation to purchasing a new home. For a £250,000 property homeowners would receive £312,500 compensation, plus £7,500 stamp duty costs and any legal fees.
Heathrow’s chief executive, Colin Matthews, said: “We are committed to treating those most affected by a third runway fairly. Since the previous runway plan was rejected in 2010 we have listened to ideas for how we could improve our proposals.
“People have told us that we should provide more generous compensation and go further in insulating homes against noise.
“We recognise that the expansion of Heathrow deserves an exceptional compensation scheme. That’s why we’re going further than statutory schemes or government guidance. People will receive fair compensation in the event that Heathrow expansion goes ahead.”
A third runway at Heathrow is one of the options for airport expansion in south-east England that have been shortlisted by the Airports Commission, which is headed by the former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies.
The plan put forward by Heathrow Airport Ltd is for a 3,500-metre runway to the north-west of the airport.
The commission is also considering a rival Heathrow scheme put forward by Heathrow Hub, a group of civil engineers which includes the former Concorde pilot Jon Lowe. Theirs is a proposal to extend the existing northern runway to at least 6,000 metres.
A second runway at Gatwick airport in West Sussex is the other shortlisted option. In addition, the commission is having a further look at the option of a new airport in the Thames estuary – the so-called “Boris Island” scheme favoured by London’s mayor, Boris Johnson.
Bosses at Gatwick are submitting their own detailed expansion plans to the commission this week. Gatwick said on Tuesday that its £7.8bn second runway project was far cheaper and far more beneficial than Heathrow’s. It said expansion at Gatwick would:
• Enable more people to fly to more destinations – 10 million more passengers each year would be able to travel with a second runway at Gatwick than with a third runway at Heathrow.
• Generate more competition, keeping fares low, and delivering £40bn more in economic benefits to the UK than expansion at Heathrow.
• Be delivered about five years earlier than a third runway at Heathrow at no additional cost or risk to the taxpayer.
• Deliver more than 120,000 jobs in London and south-east England, rebalancing the economy away from an overheated M4 corridor.
• Affect fewer people with noise – a second runway at Gatwick would impact only 14,000 people compared with the 240,000 people impacted by noise from Heathrow today.
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s chief executive, said: “As we reach this critical point in the aviation debate it is clear that the Airports Commission has a very real choice to make: expand Gatwick and create genuine competition in the market with lower fares for everyone, or move back to a London airport market dominated by a single player and saddle the next generation with higher air fares.
“Why would you choose to fly a quarter of a million more planes every year over one of the world’s most densely populated cities when instead you can fly them mostly over fields?
“Why tunnel part of the busiest motorway in Europe – the M25 – causing serious traffic disruption, when you can build on land already set aside for expansion? The choice is an obvious one. Expand the best and only deliverable option – Gatwick – and create a market that serves everyone.”
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk