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Heathrow makes a new offer for third runway

LONDON: The owners of Heathrow airport, who include the sovereign wealth funds of China and Qatar, say a revised plan for their investment includes 100,000 new jobs, £100 billion in economic benefit and a third runway by 2025 to "make Britain proud".

Heathrow third runwayCost of the expansion is put at £15.6 billion and will be privately funded says Heathrow. The company suggests the only direct cost to the UK-taxpayer would £1.2 billion to improve access roads.

However coincident with its revised offer to Britain's Airport Commission - currently reviewing future air transport options in the country's crowded South-East region - Heathrow announced the need for a future congestion charge for transport to and from the airport.

"Vehicles travelling to the airport will be cleaner in future as planned emission standards come into force over the next five years. Combined with new aircraft technology this means that the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) would be within EU limits with a third runway," says the company.

The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), a non-profit environmental association, notes the airport's outgoing chief executive Colin Matthews admitted in April the M4 motorway around London would need to be diesel-free if a third runway was ever built. Heathrow's revised plan proposes to double Heathrow cargo capacity that currently handles 65 percent of UK airfreight exports.

The EU says its air pollution legal limits set in 2010 must be complied with by 2020 or Member States face hefty fines. The AEF says "there are pockets around Heathrow which remain stubbornly above the legal limits" and are hardly likely to be reduced with an extra 240,000 flights a year.

In anticipation of a go-ahead, Heathrow says it will set aside £500 million for noise mitigation and the compulsory purchase of up to 750 homes to make way for the third runway - and the possibility of a user congestion charge to help pay for it. What price Boris?

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