Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Heathrow expansion in graphics

The government's decision to back plans to build a third runway at the UK's largest airport have long provoked fierce opposition.

The graphics below show the site of the proposed expanded Heathrow site, as well as noise "footprints" and estimates of how future flight paths may look.

Map of proposed expansion

Creating a new 2,200m runway just north of the A4, together with a new terminal, would mean 700 properties - including the village of Sipson - would have to be destroyed.

proposed airport expansion

2002 Recent noise footprint showing sound at 57 decibels - the point at which the government says noise becomes "a community annoyance". There were 466,000 air transport movements (ATMs, defined as a plane taking off or landing) in 2002

2015 Estimated noise contour if planes were taking off and landing on both of Heathrow's existing runways - 540,000 ATMs a year.

2030 A third noise-contour projection, showing three runways in action. The government says it will limit ATMs at 605,000 a year, although this will be reviewed in 2020.

Graphic showing air quality impact of third runway

The red areas show the expected increase in nitrogen dioxide by 2030 and the blue areas the decrease, according to government figures.

Map showing expected flight paths for arrivals at Heathrow in 2015

The shaded areas show predicted broad flight paths before a third runway is in operation, at a level of 540,000 ATMs. The red boundary represents the area estimated to experience noise levels of 57db (flight paths are subject to change).

Map showing expected flight paths for departures at Heathrow in 2015

As with the arrivals map, this assumes both existing runways are in use for take-offs and landings. At the moment, planes land at one until 1500 and on the other for the rest of the day to give residents half a day's break from the noise. The swathes (shaded) end at the point planes are expected to reach 4,000ft.

The number of departures differ with each route, with some swathes being used more than others.

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