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|Third Runway and Sixth Terminal set for Heathrow |
- Environmental groups plan counter-expansion campaign
BATTLE plans are being drawn on both sides as the government looks increasingly likely to approve the building of a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow airport.
Chancellor Gordon Brown gave a hint of the Heathrow expansion plans earlier this week in his Pre-Budget report.
"Heathrow plays a unique role in the UK as a hub airport and demand for capacity already significantly exceeds supply, leading to less competition, greater congestion, reduced choice and higher prices for passengers," said Brown, who made no reference to London's third biggest airport, Stansted, which had originally been earmarked for expansion.
Newspaper reports suggest an announcement on Heathrow will be made next week.
Ranged against Brown and the British Airport Authority, which has always favoured extending Heathrow over the Stansted plan, are a variety of environmental and local resident groups as well as London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone.
"There will be the mother of all battles over Heathrow because the environmental movement sees it as a cause celebre," said veteran campaigner John Stewart of the ClearSkies movement. "It will be the Newbury bypass of the skies."
Brown is aware that to be seen as anti-environment could prove an electoral disaster, so the government has drawn up plans to decrease overall pollution in the area around Heathrow, while allowing what it sees as an economically necessary increase in aeroplane pollution.
This feat would be pulled off by restricting, or taxing, trucks and lorries using nearby motorways, the M4, M3 and M25.
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