Challenges from environmental campaigners were dismissed by the High Court in May, one of the country’s highest legal bodies, clearing one of the final obstacles to the project.
The new architectural designs reveal the first visualization of what the airport might look like when the expansion is completed in 2050, well beyond the anticipated opening of the third runway.
The expansion masterplan includes the concept of “third spaces,” which will provide hybrid indoor-outdoor areas.
The plans include a “third space” concept for a new terminal, which will “integrate public spaces and the airport, providing hybrid outdoor-indoor spaces,” the airport explained.
The designs suggest that a new runway bridge will be built over the M25, akin to a similar structure at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, presenting huge engineering challenges to builders and potential disruption to surrounding traffic.
The new runway is scheduled to be completed by 2026.
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The airport has opened a 12-and-a-half-week public consultation on the newly unveiled plans. It invites the public to have their say on a number of issues, including the proposed layout and development schedule.
It will also seek feedback on how the airport plans to mitigate impacts on the surrounding communities and environment. This includes a 6.5-hour ban on scheduled night flights, the creation of a low-emission zone and the introduction of a vehicle access charge, similar to that seen in central London.
But she insisted that the airport wanted to deliver the project in the “fairest and most sustainable way” possible.
“Expansion must not come at any cost,” she said. “That is why we have been working with partners at the airport, in local communities and in government to ensure our plans show how we can grow sustainably and responsibly — with environmental considerations at the heart of expansion.”
Following the conclusion of the consultation, the airport will submit its final proposal in 2020 to the Planning Inspectorate, a governmental executive agency responsible for determining key planning issues.
The decision on whether to grant permission will then be made by the government’s minister for housing, communities and local government.
The plans have drawn sharp criticism from many environmental campaigners, who lashed out at elected members of parliament (MPs) who agreed to the expansion.