London, July 12: Queen Elizabeth II could be the single biggest beneficiary of a 700 million pounds compensation scheme to noiseproof Windsor Castle if a third runway at Britain's Heathrow airport goes ahead.
The 89-year-old monarch, who spends most weekends at Windsor, could qualify for "millions" of pounds of compensation aimed at mitigating the effects of noise from a third runway at Heathrow, the Sunday Times reported today.
The 900-year-old castle, where 10 sovereigns, including Henry VIII and Charles I, are buried, is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and covers 13 acres.
As well as being an official residence of the Queen, the castle attracts thousands of visitors each year. It is located near a potential "island of noise", according to modelling of the impact of a third runway by the Department for Transport.
The government forecast showed that a third runway at Heathrow in London would lead to an intersection of flight paths near Windsor, leading to an extra noisy "hotspot" in the area, the paper said.
"Windsor is comparable to parliament, potentially bigger, and if they do need to insulate the Windsors against noise it will cost a fortune potentially millions.
"They will end up spending more on compensation to the Queen than they spent in the past 10 years on noise compensation. Planes can fly pretty low over Windsor," the paper quoted a senior Whitehall source as saying.
Prime Minister David Cameron is now considering whether to allow a third runway at Heathrow, which was backed by an independent airports commission in a report this month.
Cameron is under pressure from business leaders to give it approval, but is facing stiff opposition to Heathrow expansion from the highest echelons of the Tory party, including the London mayor, Boris Johnson, and Zac Goldsmith, frontrunner to be the Tories choice to succeed him.
Heathrow has promised to invest 700 million pounds in noise insulation, as part of a 1 billion pounds compensation scheme if a third runway goes ahead.
Heathrow said more than 160,000 households could be eligible for noise insulation "including in Windsor".
"The final number and location would be dependent on the design of routes...and the actual level of the noise measured," the paper quoted a spokesman as saying.
Citing Whitehall sources, it said the taxpayer could end up topping up the noiseproofing of the Queen's home because the castle was so huge.