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Heathrow Reveals Expansion Plans ahead of Consultation

WITH over 80 million passengers travelling through it each year, London Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe and the second busiest hub in the world. 

Despite its size, Heathrow operates using just two runways. Currently running at 98% capacity, the airport's potential for further growth is severely restricted.

Above: A model showing the existing Heathrow Airport with only two runways (image courtesy of Heathrow Airport).

Without expansion, the British government and Heathrow Airport argue that the UK and London would become less attractive to international businesses, many of whom could instead opt to relocate to European mainland to cities such as Amsterdam, Paris or Frankfurt.

This week, Heathrow unveiled plans for its expansion, which will be up for public consultation until 13 September.

Above: The proposed masterplan for the airport's expansion includes a new runway, seen here on the left (image courtesy of Heathrow Airport).

The controversial third runway located north-west of the airport would allow for 25,000 extra flights per year.

This would require expansion of airport facilities such as terminals and hotels as well as the construction of a new tunnel for London's M25 motorway, which the new runway will cross.

Above: A section of London's M25 beltway would need to pass underneath the new runway (image courtesy of Heathrow Airport).

New cargo facilities will enable the airport to double its handling capacity to three million tonnes of freight a year by 2040.

The £16BN expansion, planned to complete by 2026, is expected to create 180,000 new jobs across the country.

However, the proposal is likely to come up against significant opposition. Not only will two villages, Longford and Harmondsworth, have to be demolished, but opponents also claim that the airport will bring additional noise and air pollution to this already densely populated corner of the UK.

Above: Despite building new airport facilities (shown in yellow), the expansion would result in the demolition of Longford and parts of Harmondsworth (image courtesy of Heathrow Airport).

To counter this, Heathrow Airport is pledging to spend more money upgrading surrounding green spaces and on ensuring that any emissions generated by the expansion fall within legal limits.

Additionally, many question whether it is wise to build such a piece of infrastructure when societies, businesses and individuals should be focusing on lowering carbon emissions rather than facilitating more.

You can respond to the Heathrow Airport expansion consultation by clicking here.


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