The government may have approved the project, which is planned to open around 2026-27, but there are more than a few vested interests who don’t care about its strategic importance to the country as a whole.
From the wealthy councils at Richmond to Friends of The Earth, some concerned about their rich residents and others whose passions for the environment are commendable, but sometimes unrealistic. A plethora of legal challenges lay ahead for the project.
One of the key issues is that it potentially contravenes the UK’s own climate legislation, others that the noise and extra pollution will make lives a misery.
The counter arguments are economic necessity, especially post-Brexit, that aircraft are significantly quieter and less polluting and many of the worst – namely BA’s old 744’s as some of the worst sinners, will be gone before it even opens.
Heathrow will go to considerable lengths to manage the way the runways are operated. For example the third runway is intended to be short haul smaller aircraft with lower impact, so that the larger aircraft are kept to their existing flight profiles.
One of the largest polluters at Heathrow is ground transport – taxis, trucks and cars on surrounding roads – some 40% of which is nothing to do with the airport.
Heathrow has already instituted transport reduction programmes, one that’s not really worked was banning private hotel transfer buses from the airport, replacing it with a scheduled service.
The reality of the situation is that if you have two cases and a carry on bag you can’t manage that on a scheduled bus service. So the number of taxis and private transfer companies has grown dramatically. However to be fair, there is a growing all-electric car transfer option appearing.
For some it will never be good enough, Heathrow’s third runway is simply not acceptable and they’ll fight it to the end.