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Heathrow airport expansion gets Government backing

Ministers approve plans during cabinet committee meeting this morning (Tuesday).

Chris Ord


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A THIRD runway looks set to be built at Heathrow airport after receiving Government backing this morning (Tuesday).

The move, which was recommended in a 2015 report by the Airport Commission, will mean hundreds of thousands more flights in and out of the airport each year.

During a cabinet committee meeting earlier today ministers favoured the Heathrow expansion plans over the option to build a second runway at Gatwick.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "A new runway at Heathrow will improve connectivity in the UK itself and crucially boost our connections with the rest of the world, supporting exports, trade and job opportunities.

"This isn’t just a great deal for business, it’s a great deal for passengers who will also benefit from access to more airlines, destinations and flights."

Mr Grayling added that the scheme will be subject to full public consultation and would only proceed subject to a "world class" package of compensation and mitigation.

According to the Government the move will create 77,000 local jobs over the next 14 years and provide a £61billion boost to the wider economy over 60 years.

The scheme will now go through a year-long consultation followed by a vote in the House of Commons.

Reading West MP, Alok Sharma, a longstanding supporter of expansion at Heathrow Airport, gave his backing to the Heathrow expansion.

“It is no coincidence that ten percent of the UK’s economic output is generated in the western wedge around Heathrow and that expansion at the airport has such broad business support right across the United Kingdom," he said.

"This decision will send a clear message that Britain is open for business and that we welcome closer ties with countries around the globe.”

Mr Sharma added: “With all London airports currently projected to be full by 2030, I believe there will be plenty of scope for expansion at other airports too, but it is vital we get spades in the ground at Heathrow at the earliest opportunity to secure our future as a trading nation and one of the best connected countries in the world.”

The decision has also received backing from the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP with chairman, Peter Read, saying: "The expansion of Heathrow is a positive signal from the Prime Minister that in the midst of Brexit uncertainty, the UK remains a strong hub of global connectivity.

"As the most productive sub-region in the country, Thames Valley Berkshire’s connectivity is crucial to this and to maintaining the UK’s competitive advantage.

"The LEP has made public its position of support for the expansion of Heathrow since 2012 and this has always been based on sound evidence.

"It is heartening to see that such a significant decision for the UK economy has finally been made on the basis of sound economic rationale.”

However the decision has drawn criticism from some quarters with Green MEPs saying the move lacks 'common sense' and is 'manifestly against the interests of the UK and the British people'.

Keith Taylor, a vocal anti-expansion campaigner and Green MEP for the South East who sits on the European Parliament's Transport committee, said: "There are no two ways about it - this is a disastrous decision for the people of the South East, London, Britain, and the planet.

"Welcome to Theresa May's never-never land, where prime ministers never have to listen to scientists and never have to apologise for increasing CO2 emissions and air pollution levels.

"The Maidenhead MP has flip-flopped on her previous opposition to Heathrow and has kowtowed to the demands of multi-million-pound airport lobbies while ignoring the concerns of her own constituents and the need to take urgent action to mitigate catastrophic climate change.

"Is this what the Prime Minister had in mind when she promised to build a Britain not driven by the interests of a privileged few?"

  • What do you think of the plans to expand Heathrow? Let us know in the comments below. 

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