Heathrow aims to build its third runway by 2026 and complete its expansion by 2050.

A new masterplan plublished today (Tuesday) includes diverting rivers, moving roads and re-routing the M25 motorway through a tunnel under the new runway.

The London hub is proposing a staggered approach with the new runway to be built in the first phase by 2026, with the rest of the airport infrastructure – including new terminals and access – to be completed by around 2050.

The proposals are open to public consultation until September 13.

The plan also outlines a previously flagged new low-emission zone for the airport, meaning additional charges for those who drive a more polluting vehicle to the airport. 

Heathrow says it is pursuing better public transport links and is proposing a longer respite at night providing local communities with six and a half hour ban on night flights – an extra hour and a half.

The public will be able to have their say on plans to manage the environmental impact of expansion, including a proposed Heathrow ‘ultra low emissions zone’ and a vehicle access charge.

The airport’s executive director for expansion, Emma Gilthorpe, said: “Expansion must not come at any cost. 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.

“This consultation is an opportunity for people to have their say on our preferred masterplan, so it’s really important that as many people as possible take part.”

The first phase of the privately-funded expansion – to deliver the new runway – is expected to cost £14 billion. The total cost is expected to be around £30 billion.

Heathrow aims to submit a final expansion proposal to the transport secretary in 2020, kickstarting the approvals process.

The decision on whether to grant a Development Consent Order will then be made following a public examination period.

Gilthorpe said she hoped to “have spades in the ground” by early 2022.

The consultation follows the High Court’s dismissal of legal challenges against Heathrow expansion.

A spokesman for the rival extended runway proposal said today: “This third runway plan is the ultimate £30 billion unicorn and the next prime minister -presumably Boris Johnson – should cancel it.

“The idea Heathrow can get it across the M25 right next to the M4 junction without causing years of delays is fanciful.

“The costs – to be borne by passengers and airlines – are evidently spiralling out of control. And the project is hugely environmentally damaging.

“Far better to build our cheaper, greener, quieter extended runway instead. Politicians need to rediscover that, so often in life, the simplest, compromise solution is best.”