Heathrow likely to submit 3rd runway plan to Airports Commission but unknown if they will want to “safeguard” land for a 4th

The Financial Times reports that Heathrow Airport Holdings is considering a phased approach to its expansion. That means definitely a 3rd runway as soon as it can get it. Heathrow will not rule out a 4th runway for ever (largely because it has got into such trouble in the past over previous broken promises). However, Heathrow does not know whether there will be a need for a 4th runway in any foreseeable timescale, because of the difficulty of predicting demand decades in advance. It appears no decision has been taken on whether they will ask for land to be safeguarded for a 4th runway, as that would be very unpopular and cause decades of blight and misery.  The operator of Heathrow has ruled out moving away from its existing site, as expanding at Heathrow would be much cheaper.  A 3rd runway at Heathrow might cost about £13 billion. Heathrow will submit its proposal to the Airports Commission by 19th July. Heathrow’s decision on what to submit will be taken by its board, which includes representatives from Ferrovial and Chinese and Qatari sovereign wealth funds. The FT suggests their attitudes could be influenced by the CAA’s proposal to reduce the fees Heathrow can charge airlines. 




Heathrow favours ‘phased’ approach to runway growth

By Andrew Parker (Financial Times)


…. includes the comment:

One added that this infrastructure could support growth in air travel through to 2040 or later.
That person said Heathrow could also seek permission to “safeguard” land for a fourth runway that could be built at some point much later this century, but there was no guarantee construction would happen.

Full FT article at:



See comment by Wandsworth Council on the problems of building a new runway close to reservoirs  below





Wandsworth Council says ‘Runway plan ignores environmental damage’

6th June 13

A rumoured plan to build a third runway south-west of Heathrow Airport would cause irreparable environmental damage, according to the leader of Wandsworth Council.

Councillor Ravi Govindia today urged airport bosses to abandon any attempt to establish a third runway – claiming that suggestions one could be established in the Stanwell Moor area ignore the fact that building work would need to be carried out on land protected by EU wildlife and environment directives.

He warned the likely outcome of any such move by bosses would see them eventually having to alter their plan and building a third runway directly south of the airport.

Cllr Govindia said:

“A new south-western runway would involve building on protected water bodies close to the airport, which would decimate wildlife habitats and potentially have implications for the proper functioning of nearby reservoirs.

“The only way to avoid this area while ensuring sufficient runway separation between the existing southern runway and a new one would be to build it directly to the south of the airport – exactly where the 2M group predicted the desired site was earlier this year.

“None of this of course addresses the question of where a sixth terminal would be built or how local rail and roads networks would cope with passenger throughput in excess of 100 million movements annually.

“And let’s not forget that any attempts to establish a third runway at Heathrow will inevitably lead to demands for further additional capacity including the possibility of a fourth runway.”

In April, Wandsworth and its 2M Group campaign partners produced new flightpath maps highlighting the parts of London which could be overflow by planes using the proposed third and fourth runways.Heathrow runway arrivals: noise map

In Wandsworth parts of Roehampton, West Putney, West Hill, East Putney, Southfields, Earlsfield, Wandsworth Common, Northcote, Nightingale, Tooting, Balham, Bedford, Graveney and Furzedown wards could be disrupted by aircraft coming into land on a new runway to the south of the existing landing strips.

Wandsworth has consistently warned that Heathrow will not stop expanding if granted a third landing strip. Its main European rivals have four or more runways and Heathrow will need to match their capacity to directly compete.

Charles de Gaulle, Heathrow’s nearest rival, has four runways. Frankfurt and Barajas (Madrid) also have four and Schiphol (Amsterdam) has six.


Notes to editors

Water bodies in the Stanwell Moor area are used for drinking water and the creation of a runway on the site would require them to be enclosed. This has implications for the proper functioning of the reservoirs because a 21 day retention period for stored water in open air should always be aimed for, to allow the natural UV to act as a primary steriliser for drinking water.