FILE PHOTO: A British Airways Boeing 747 comes in to land at Heathrow airport in London. Pic: Reuters

The R256 billion expansion of Heathrow to build the controversial third runway will cause ‘30 years of misery’, campaigners have warned.

The sheer scale of the project was revealed yesterday as Britain’s biggest airport laid out its ‘preferred masterplan’ for a vast revamp.

It insisted it was on course to open the runway by 2026, but revealed that the entire project would not be finished until ‘around 2050’.

When the scheme is completed, the area covered by the airport will expand by more than half – from 11.65 square km  to 18 square km.

Hundreds of homes and businesses in nearby villages will be knocked down, and engineers will divert roads and even rivers.

Three car parks will be built for 52,500 cars, while new rail links will connect Heathrow to the Southern network and the Great Western Main Line, which runs from London Paddington to Bristol.

To accommodate an extra 60 million passengers and 260,000 more flights every year, Terminal 2 and Terminal 5 will be expanded.

Two buildings will be added to Terminal 5 – T5X will contain check-in desks, security, immigration, baggage reclaim, restaurants and shops. A shuttle train will connect it to T5XN, a satellite terminal.

A satellite terminal to process more passengers will also be built by the expanded Terminal 2.

The biggest engineering project will be shifting a 1.2-mile, 12-lane stretch of the M25 almost 500ft to the west to a tunnel 15ft under the new runway. Heathrow said it would not have to close the M25 to do the work, but the RAC warned it could mean ‘years of significant disruption’ for drivers.

Extra capacity will also be need to be created around the airport to cater for more car journeys.

Campaigners said the prolonged expansion would have a profound impact on communities across London and the Home Counties.

Heathrow has submitted its masterplan to a three-month public consultation, and is expected to apply for planning permission next year.

But it emerged yesterday that a potential roadblock may have been cleared after it was reported that Boris Johnson – tipped to become prime minister and arguably Heathrow’s most high-profile critic – had become resigned to the third runway.

Former transport secretary Lord Adonis claimed he had done a U-turn, saying he privately told Tory MPs the runway would go ahead because it had been backed by Parliament, after MPs voted by 415 to 119 to support the third runway.

But environmental groups, local MPs and residents have vowed to thwart the plans, claiming air pollution at Heathrow is already illegally high. They say the expansion also undermines the Prime Minister’s pledge for Britain to produce ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050. 

Heathrow outlined measures to mitigate the impact on the environment and residents, including compensating homeowners with 125 per cent of the value of their property. Some £2.6billion will be set aside for compensation, noise insulation for residents and businesses and to fund local amenities.

Robert Barnstone, of the Stop Heathrow Expansion group, said: ‘Heathrow’s plans are laughable. Not only does it want to disrupt people’s lives for up to 30 years whilst building this runway, but proposes jumbo-size car parks whilst pledging to reduce the number of people using cars.’ 

© Daily Mail