Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are confident of being shortlisted as potential locations for new runways by the government’s Airports Commission.
But backers of a costly new hub in the Thames estuary, led by London mayor Boris Johnson, fear their proposals may not make the shortlist drawn, the Financial Times reported.
The commission is expected to publish a report next week that will include several sites where new runways could be built. It will then proceed with a detailed examination of these proposals before a final recommendation in 2015.
The commission received 58 submissions in July on how to deal with the UK’s runway capacity crisis.
Chairman Sir Howard Davies said in October he wanted a “very manageable” shortlist of options that could minimise the number of areas affected by blight.
Groups opposed to airport expansion are calling for runway promoters to provide some form of compensation to blighted areas and Sir Howard suggested that this might also involve government money.
One government insider said ministers could accept the case for such a compensation regime, although no decision had been taken.
Two people involved in estuary airport proposals, who declined to be named, said the Davies Commission might face a legal challenge if it excluded these ideas from its shortlist, according to the FT.
One of these people said Johnson could become critical of the commission’s work if it rejected an estuary airport.
Heathrow has proposed three different locations for a third runways which could cost up to £18 billion; Gatwick is proposing a second runway at a cost of up to £9 billion; while Stansted says a second runway at the Essex airport could cost £4 billion.
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