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Third runway a step closer as Heathrow starts buying houses

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Third runway
Third runway

Heathrow has resumed buying houses close to its proposed third runway as it comes under pressure from its biggest investor to press on with the controversial expansion.

The airport reopened a property hardship scheme this month through which it buys homes from owners who are otherwise unable to sell them due to the prospect of a third runway.

Heathrow’s expansion plans were resurrected in December when the Supreme Court overturned an earlier ruling to outlaw the £14bn scheme.

Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, Heathrow’s biggest shareholder, has previously hinted that it could sell its stake if it cannot increase its returns. A third runway is viewed as a crucial part of restoring Heathrow’s financial performance in the longer term.

Ernesto Mozo, chief financial officer at Ferrovial, said: “Regarding expansion, it’s a topic that is [on] the back burner, but it’s top priority as well.”

Geraldine Nicholson, from campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion, said: “It’s clear Heathrow has not given up yet and that their overseas shareholders are becoming impatient.

“To give this level of uncertainty to thousands of people around Heathrow is wrong – Heathrow should realise the game is up on their third runway and focus on rebuilding the airport as a ­better neighbour.”

A spokesman for Heathrow said: “The property hardship scheme is designed to allow people who have a compelling reason to move but can’t sell their homes because of the potential for the project going ahead. It only applies in limited circumstances … and is not an open door to purchasing properties at large around the airport.”

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