BATTLE plans are being drawn over the government’s decision to push ahead with a third runway and sixth terminal for Heathrow.

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On one side stands an amalgam of opposition parties, Green groups and local resident associations opposed to the development on grounds ranging from political opportunism, climate change fears and NIMBYism; on the other, big business, trade unions and the government itself.

Like in a real war, both camps are ready to unveil new weapons for the fight head.

The government’s new wheeze is the Infrastructure Planning Commision, a body brought in late last year to streamline the planning process and cut down on time-consuming public consultation meetings.

With the IPC up and running, Heathrow backers reckon the new runway could be in action five years earlier than first thought, by 2015 rather than 2020.

“It is possible it could open in 2015 if the planning process is completed in time,” said Lord Adonis, the Transport Minister.

But lack of public consultation, as well as a lack of a parliamentary vote on the issue, is a red rag to the Green bull, leaving environmental campaigners free to claim another piece of its favoured moral high-ground.

Green groups are set to adopt ever more headline-grabbing tactics in response, as we’ve seen with them buying up land on the proposed site and Friday morning’s attack on the HQ of the Department of Transport.

“We will stop this runway using every peaceful means at our disposal,” said a spokesperson for Plane Stupid.

There is also the fearsome spectre of celebrity involvement. Actress Emma Thompson is so far the most vocal of the anti-third runway celebs.

“It’s a real slap in the face to every citizen in this country who has been doing their best to cut back on their own emissions,” she said on Friday, looking tanned after flying in to London from Los Angeles.