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Expansion plans for Heathrow Airport’s new third runway have been published as a 12-week public consultation opens, revealing the impact of the new developments.

As part of the construction, the M25 will be moved 150 metres west and run through an underground tunnel. Roads and rivers will be diverted, a total of 46,000 car parking spaces added, and local villages such as Harmondsworth destroyed.

The consultation is a mandatory part of the planning process following the government’s decision to greenlight the third runway last year, and will be followed by a submission of final plans and possible approval in 2021.

The runway is due to open in 2026, but construction will continue in phases beyond 2050. Locals have been offered property compensation, noise-insulation funding and 6.5 flight-free hours every night, and plans include the construction of a 20km Green Loop containing cycleways, foothpaths and some land reclaimed for wildlife.

However, campaigners have objected to the long-term disruption, traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, and the destruction of existing green belt land.

Heathrow publishes third runway expansion plans
Credit: Yolanda Sun

Among others, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas also expressed scepticism that the project was compatible with the UK’s new commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Heathrow’s owners maintain that the airport’s expansion will not significantly alter the UK’s emissions, but only reach this conclusion by excluding international aviation emissions,” Lucas wrote in The Guardian.

“That suggests they missed another memo, this time from the committee on climate change which has said that emissions from international aviation should be formally included in the UK’s climate targets.”

However, the UK government has already rejected advice from the Committee on Climate Change not to rely on international carbon credits, where neutrality is achieved through “carbon offsetting”, such as planting new forests, even though critics say that any plan that relies on carbon offsetting is not enough to achieve net zero emissions across all sectors.

Source: The Guardian

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