London

Heathrow plans 'frightening' reality as third runway proposed

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Media captionThe plans would transform nearby village Stanwell Moor

Plans for a possible third runway at Heathrow may not have been a surprise for local residents.

But, for many of them, an announcement by the airport on Wednesday outlining three possible options that could lead to an extra 260,000 flights a year made a "frightening" situation more of a reality.

Heathrow has published three possible proposals for an additional runway - to the north affecting Sipson, north-west over Harmondsworth Moor and to the south west through Stanwell Moor.

Robert Evans, councillor for Stanwell and Stanwell Moor said: "The village gets completely destroyed under option three.

"I wasn't totally surprised because we knew these would be in the pipeline but... it's a pretty desperate situation and pretty frightening.

"The real problem now is the area is blighted and there will be a period of uncertainty, people will be anxious because they bought their homes and now they find the home isn't the asset they thought."

'Quicker and cheaper'

Hounslow Council said the borough would be affected by all three proposals but would be "hit hard" by the south west option at Stanwell Moor.

Deputy leader Colin Ellar said: "With all of these options, we will be carrying out detailed work to understand the noise impact on our communities.

"The submission makes the right noises about noise insulation, but there is no detail yet in respect of the cost of the scheme, and crucially who would pay for it."

Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, said he was opposed to any expansion of Heathrow due to the impact it would have on the whole of west London.

Image copyright Heathrow Airports Limited
Image caption Heathrow said its preferred options were the north west and south west proposals

"Heathrow is the wrong airport in the wrong place, putting 250,000 flights in the air in the most densely populated part of our country would be madness.

"This is a massive engine for noise and pollution over west London collectively and adding to it won't solve problems."

Heathrow said its three options were "quicker and cheaper than any rival hub option" and would increase its capacity to 740,000 flights a year, up from the current limit of 480,000 catering for 130 million passengers.

It said its westerly options were the most advantageous, "delivering a full-length third runway while minimising the impact on the local community from noise and compulsory house purchases".

Earlier this week Mayor of London, Boris Johnson put forward his three proposals which included building an artificial island on the Thames Estuary, a four-runway hub on the Isle of Grain or expanding Stansted Airport.

But he said expanding Heathrow was "crackers".

"Any proposal for expansion of Heathrow is politically, environmentally and socially unacceptable.

"There will be more pigs flying than aircraft if we are to believe the claim that three runways at Heathrow will make less noise than two. Their proposal would be a disastrous outcome for Londoners."

'A thousand cuts'

The Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise too said "all three options have considerable downsides" and it was "sceptical" about the proposals.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A third runway would be ready up to seven years earlier than an entirely new hub, Heathrow claims

Chairman John Stewart added: "Heathrow Airport are making a lot of the fact that expansion can take place while cutting noise for residents.

"It is very hard to see how you can square that with an overall reduction in noise level."

But there are those who support the plans with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry saying it is necessary for Heathrow to expand to meet demand.

Chief executive Colin Stanbridge said: "If you close the airport, what are you going to do about the hundred odd thousand jobs that are going to disappear?

"And if the airport dies by a thousand cuts because there's not enough capacity similarly it's going to have a huge economic impact not just on west London but on the whole of London and therefore the UK economy."

The plans will be submitted to the Davies Commission, which is due to report back by 2015.

A final decision will then be made by the government.

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