NEW images have emerged of how Heathrow Airport might look should its third runway expansion get Government sign-off later this year.

They include an artist's impression of a repositioned M25 with a proposed underground tunnel that passes under the new third runway.

The images have been released as Heathrow launches a 10-week public consultation today, January 17, which runs until March 28.

This time the airport giant is consulting the public on the physical changes it may have to make to the airport as part of building the third runway development. It is also asking the public for its views on the rules that could apply when redesigning the airspace, as part of the development. However no flight paths have yet been drawn up, Heathrow said.

The public's views will help shape its plans for expansion, the airport added.  Heathrow claimed the consultation would become "one of the largest" in the country's history - with 40 individual events staged in communities around the transport hub, and hundreds of thousands of responses expected online.

The building options, all of which are only possibilities currently, include:

  • Three shortlisted options for the new north-west runway, varying in length from between 3,200 and 3,500 metres between Colnbrook and Sipson
  • Three potential locations to expand terminal infrastructure including parking for aircraft: east of Terminal 2, west of Terminal 5 or a new satellite terminal by the new runway
  • Realignment of the M25: repositioning it approximately 150 metres to the west, and lowering it by seven metres in a tunnel and raising the runway height so it passes over the M25
  • Options for changes to local roads and possible changes to junctions 14 and 14A of the M25

Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director for expansion, said: “When the government announced its support for Heathrow expansion it made a clear commitment to keeping Britain open for business.

"We want an expanded Heathrow to be the world’s best airport, ensuring that our country and its future generations have the infrastructure they need to thrive.

“We need feedback to help deliver this opportunity responsibly and to create a long-term legacy both at a local and national level. Heathrow is consulting to ensure that we deliver benefits for our passengers, businesses across the country but also, importantly, for those neighbours closest to us.”

The Government is expected to go to a final House of Commons vote on the third-runway at Heathrow in the first half of this year, the date of which is still to be announced.

Heathrow asked to 'slow down'

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger said he will scrutinise the proposals to "ensure they enable more competition" and do not prioritise the airport's largest carrier, British Airways.

He added: "Cost and efficiency remain huge concerns so Heathrow must also demonstrate that its plans are affordable to maintain our support."

The third runway was due to cost about £16.8 billion, but Heathrow claims it can complete the project for £14 billion.

Airlines have expressed concerns that landing charges could be hiked to help pay for the investment.

Willie Walsh, the boss of British Airways' parent company IAG, has urged the Government to make Heathrow provide a detailed breakdown of its expansion costs to ensure passengers are not ripped off.

The airport insists that landing charges - currently around £22 per passenger - will remain "close to today's levels".

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has previously indicated that this would be a condition of giving the go-ahead to expansion.

John Stewart, chairman of anti-Heathrow expansion group Hacan, said: "We welcome the chance to shape the new flight paths rather than have them imposed.

"If a third runway is ever given the go-ahead we want the best possible deal for residents."

The Department for Transport says it is on track to publish final proposals for expansion in the first half of the year for a vote in Parliament.

If the scheme is approved, Heathrow will submit a planning application after consulting local communities on detailed proposals.

The airport hopes to begin construction in early 2021, with the runway completed by the end of 2025.

Rob Barnstone, coordinator of the No 3rd Runway Coalition representing MPs, local authorities and campaign groups opposed to expansion, believes the consultation is premature and said Heathrow should "calm down and await Parliament's verdict".

He said: "The consultation has major gaps in information including the lack of any information on new flight paths and robust plans to address issues arising from expansion including air quality and roads and rail around the airport.

"There is also no evidence that Heathrow can deliver on promises made to local communities. All of its promises are, as usual, 'indicative'."

Consultation events in our area are as follows:

ASCOT Wednesday January 31, 12pm-8pm Ascot Racecourse, High Street, Ascot SL5 7JX

BRACKNELL Thursday February 1, 12pm-8pm Grange Bracknell Hotel, Charles Square, Bracknell RG12 1DF

BURNHAM Saturday February 3, 10am-4pm Burnham Park Hall, Windsor Lane, Burnham SL1 7HR

COLNBROOK Wednesday February 7, 12pm-8pm Colnbrook Village Hall, Vicarage Way, Colnbrook SL3 0RF

MAIDENHEAD Thursday February 8, 12pm-8pm SportsAble, Braywick Sports Ground, Maidenhead SL6 1BN

ENGLEFIELD GREEN Wednesday February 14, 12pm-8pm The Village Centre, Victoria Street, Englefield Green TW20 0QX

SLOUGH Wednesday February 28, 12pm-8pm The Curve Slough, William Street, Slough SL1 1XY

RICHINGS PARK Friday March 2, 12pm-8pm Richings Park Sports Hall, Wellesley Avenue, Richings Park, Iver SL0 9BN

WINDSOR Friday February 2, 12pm-8pm Windsor Youth & Community Centre, Alma Road, Windsor SL4 3HD

WRAYSBURY Saturday March 3, 10am-4pm Wraysbury Village Hall, The Green, Wraysbury TW19 5NA

For more information on the Heathrow consultation click here