An issue at LHR is the third runway. The potential show stopper for the third runway is the EU regulation on permissible nitrogen dioxide levels that the Heathrow area currently does not meet. However an article by BA Chairman, Martin Broughton in BA's June 2006 'Investor' magazine says:
'Another vital issue is local air quality which was described in the Government's White Paper in 2003 as the "most difficult issue" in relation to potential expansion of runway capacity at Heathrow.
'Air quality monitoring by the National Environmental Technology Centre supported by British Airways, shows that levels of nitrogen dioxide around Heathrow are coming down to levels within the proposed new EU legal limits [due to come into force in 2010]. This is encouraging evidence as the Government prepares to issue its own technical analysis based on the Project for Sustainable Development of Heathrow.
'The data also shows that it is London's air quality that has a detrimental effect on Heathrow - not the other way round, as many people think.'
As the prevailing winds are from Heathrow towards London I suspect that for 'London' in the Broughton statement we should read 'automobile traffic on the adjacent M4 and M25 motorways'. Nevertheless this news is extremely encouraging for the future of LHR.
The one problem it will create for BA is that currently as Willie Walsh says in the same 'Investor' magazine:
'Terminal 5 has two-way taxiways, no cul-de-sacs or runway crossings.'
If the third runway is built access from it to T5 will be across the current 09L / 27R runway.
One other bit of news that I had not picked up on elsewhere is that Walsh says about T5:
'The main terminal (T5A) and first satellite (T5B) will be handed over [by BAA] to British Airways in September, 2007 to enable the airline to carry out six months of rigorous testing of the building and its systems.'
He went on to say:
'I make no apologies for talking up Terminal 5. It will be the most modern, advanced terminal in the world that will give us a real competitive advantage over our rivals and enable us to improve the way we manage our operations.'