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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.”