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Plans to build an extra 3,000 car parking spaces at Heathrow have angered campaigners, who say it sends the wrong message about tackling climate change and increasing public transport use to the airport.

The airport however points out while parking increases from 64,000 to 67,000 in its newly-released masterplan, there are proposals to triple the numbers taking trains to the airport and to encourage cycling and walking.

Stop Heathrow Expansion spokesman Rob Barnstone said the inclusion of two immense 22,000 and 24,000-space multi-storey lots, and another 6,500-space park by Terminal 4 were a rude surprise in the plan, unveiled on Tuesday.

He said: “This lot have been going on and on and on and lobbying politicians about their public transport, making it a 50 per cent road-share by 2030, and actually the number of people using public transport hasn’t actually increased since Terminal 5 opened.

“Do you want to encourage people to go on public transport or do you want to create [over] 50,000 parking spaces?”

He also complained that the majority of the car parks were being built on green belt land.

According to Heathrow, the passenger numbers at an expanded airport will increase from 80m today to 142m by 2050 – significantly reducing access to parking facilities even with the increase.

CG image of how Heathrow Airport could look
(Image: Heathrow Ltd)

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Heathrow has ambitious plans to treble the airport’s rail capacity by 2040, enabling 30 million more passengers to use public transport.

“Combined with schemes which are already in development like Crossrailand HS2 , the airport’s proposed vehicle access charge, 20km of new dedicated cycling and walkways and limits on parking spaces available – we are confident that more people will travel to and from the airport via sustainable public transport compared to today.”

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Heathrow defended its record on growing passenger numbers while reducing car use, saying over the past 30 years, passenger numbers have doubled whilst vehicle use has remained broadly static.

One of the requirements set out in the Airports National Policy is for at least 50 per cent of passenger journeys to be made by public transport by 2030 and at least 55 per cent by 2050.

The airport said it would also be implementing a Heathrow Ultra Low Emissions Zone (HULEZ) from 2022 to help improve local air quality.

How the parking changes could affect Heathrow
(Image: Heathrow Ltd)

A spokesman said: “This HULEZ will transition into a vehicle access charge payable by all those driving to the airport from 2026.

“Money raised will help fund improved sustainable transport options for passengers.

Heathrow’s plan for parking is to basically take the many smaller car parks dotted around the site and condense them into what they’re calling the Southern and Northern Parkways.

The Northern Parkway will be close to the M4 and will have capacity for up to 24,000 spaces and will serve the Central Terminal Area via direct shuttle services.

The Southern Parkway will have capacity for up to 22,000 spaces, and will connect to the M25 and serve Terminal 5 via shuttle.