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Could third runway approval mean years of misery for drivers?

Credit: PA

Today is the final day of Government consultation on a third Heathrow runway but the airport's biggest user has opposed the plan.

IAG, who own British Airways, say plans to build the new runway over the M25 will add up to £3 billion to the cost and could "de-rail" the entire scheme.

They say it would mean years of misery for drivers on the M25 and M4 while the work takes place.

It says a shorter runway option is the way forward. The existing plans would mean BA's HQ also being demolished.

IAG say the current £17 billion scheme is "over inflated" and a shorter runway, that didn't mean going over the M25, would be more affordable.

The Government is consulting on a third runway ahead of a vote by MP's early next year.

Under the scheme backed by officials the new runway would be over the M25 and run parallel to the M4.

Credit: PA

In its submission to the Government’s consultation on its Airports National Policy Statement, which closes today IAG says there’s no detailed risk and cost analysis of Heathrow’s plans to build over one of Europe’s busiest motorways.

IAG estimates bridging the M25, close to the M4 junction, would cost £2-3 billion on top of Heathrow’s already over-inflated £17 billion bill for the third runway. All costs will be paid for by airlines’ customers.

In its submission, IAG says that Heathrow is the best option for expansion. However, the airport needs to focus on a shorter runway (3200m rather than 3500m) that doesn’t breach the M25 and is delivered to a business case that keeps current charges the same or lower than today’s.

It also welcomes credible schemes from promoters other than Heathrow. IAG says this would ensure customers get the very best scheme, built at an affordable price, which delivers a competitive new Heathrow for the UK economy post-Brexit."

– IAG statement

Airlines were never consulted on the runway length and they can operate perfectly well from a slightly shorter runway that doesn’t cross the M25. Bridging the M25 means years of disruption on a motorway already plagued by delays and congestion. As well as increased costs, this will have a huge impact not only on motorists but on local communities around Heathrow.

The airport has yet to produce a business plan that assesses the financial implications and risks of bridging the M25. We will not pay for a runway that threatens both costs and delays spiralling out of control and where critical elements of the project could be undeliverable.

Britain needs cost-effective airport infrastructure that benefits the country rather than Heathrow’s shareholders. It is already the world’s most expensive hub airport and customer charges must not increase to pay for the new runway. We urge the Government to benchmark Heathrow’s costs against other similar global schemes.”

– Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive