Heathrow is planning a new runway south-west of the airport, it can be disclosed.
The development in the Stanwell Moor area is one of two or three options to be submitted to the Davies commission into airport expansion, according to well-placed sources.
Bosses at Heathrow have torn up the blueprint for a third runway to the north of the existing two runways, which was backed by the previous Labour government but ran into strong opposition from locals and environmentalists.
The favoured new option is to build on land stretching from the existing airport towards Stanwell Moor village and north of local reservoirs. This could require the demolition of a few properties.
Alternatively, the village could be significantly pulled down, with generous compensation for locals. Heathrow managers are understood to have come up with the plan after examining at least 50 options for expansion.
It is expected to include a series of measures to mitigate additional noise from tens of thousands of extra flights. The bosses have already rejected most proposals, including one for a new four-runway “superhub” airport close to Slough or 15 minutes from Oxford.
Aviation experts say the Stanwell Moor proposal shows that Heathrow is seeking to minimise the noise impact of a bigger airport, seen as the main obstacle to its expansion.
It would also be in Spelthorne, a borough housing many Heathrow staff and whose Conservative MP, Kwasi Kwarteng, has led calls for a third or even a fourth runway. The development would not be expected to increase disturbance significantly for most residents living under the flightpaths of the current two runways.
But there could be more noise over Feltham, Twickenham, Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common, which is likely to spark a major campaign – including by Stanwell Moor residents – against the scheme.
John Stewart, the chairman of the anti-Heathrow expansion group HACAN, said: “This is an attempt to reduce the impact for residents but our concern remains over the huge overall increase in numbers of planes over London that a third runway would bring.” The proposal meant, in effect, that the plan for a northern third runway had “no chance of seeing the light of day”, he added.
Daniel Moylan, the Mayor of London’s chief aviation adviser, said: “Even to discuss this is to add a new blight to the lives of thousands of Londoners. It is further proof that Heathrow expansion is environmentally and politically impossible.”
Heathrow has not yet decided whether to put forward one scheme as its “favoured” option when it makes its submission to the Airports Commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies.