Airports operator to hold crunch talks with London mayor advisers over threat to Terminal 5 delivery costs.
Airports operator BAA is to hold urgent talks with advisers for London mayor Ken Livingstone over plans to extend the congestion charge to Heathrow.

BAA officials fear this could add substantially to the costs of airport construction projects, such as the £3.7bn Terminal 5 scheme.

Building revealed last week that construction deliveries on the T5 project would occur every 37 seconds during two specific periods of the day.

A BAA insider said that contractors would have to pay through the nose for deliveries unless an agreement with Livingstone was reached.

He said: "As part of talks with the mayor's office we need to discuss whether charges would include construction vehicles and how the scheme would be feasible."

A BAA spokesperson confirmed that officials are seeking a meeting with representatives of the mayor's office.

"We are seeking a meeting to discuss the expansion proposals and until we have clarity on what the wider implications will be for Heathrow as a whole, as well as just T5, we cannot say any more," said the spokesperson.

The London mayor's office said it had no firm plans to extend the charge to Heathrow but Livingstone had expressed an interest in the idea.

A spokesperson said: "Ken has not announced it is going ahead and no feasibility work has been carried out – but we cannot deny it is something he is looking at doing."

In a separate development, it has emerged that contractors are being penalised for reducing the number of vehicles in their fleets in an effort to cut their congestion charge bills.

A letter from Transport for London sent to a leading contractor this month said because it had fewer than 25 lorries, it was no longer entitled to a discount on the charge. The firm lobbied TfL and it eventually reversed the decision.

Strategic forum chairman Peter Rogers said that TfL needed to stop penalising contractors for streamlining their operations and instead reward them for cutting congestion.

  • Carillion chief executive John McDonough and construction equipment hire firm Speedy Hire have backed Building's Chop the Charge campaign to win an exemption for construction firms.

    Speedy Hire said it had 800 vehicles entering the capital and the congestion charge would cost it an extra £100,000 a year.

    A design departure: Terminal 5’s magic interchange

    Richard Rogers Partnership’s final design for the £3.7bn Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport has sprouted a multi-modal transport interchange combined with a multistorey car park, which will run alongside the terminal building along its full 384 m length. The airport scheme for BAA was granted detailed planning permission in February. All visitors to T5, whether arriving by rail, Tube, bus, taxi or car will be channelled through the transport interchange. They will then traverse pedestrian bridges across a landscaped “interchange plaza” to enter the departures hall on the top floor of the terminal building. This hall, as large as 10 football pitches, will spread out beneath what Lord Rogers called “a light, transparent, magical roof”, a feature of his practice’s competition entry in 1989. However, intermediate columns have since been removed to provide a flexible internal space, leaving the steel roof arches to span the full 165 m between side walls. Enabling works has started on the terminal building, which is due to open in 2008.