Plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport have been approved by UK cabinet ministers.
The government’s economic sub-committee, chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May, backed the plans which were then approved by her full cabinet.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling hailed the decision as a “historic moment” and said there would be £2.6 billion available in compensation for residents and noise abatement measures. He added that the expansion would only proceed if air quality obligations were met.
Responding to the publication of the Airports National Policy Statement and the announcement by Grayling that the UK government supports the best use of existing aviation infrastructure, Karen Dee, chief executive of the British airports organisation AOA, said: “A global Britain requires connectivity to both established and emerging markets right across the country and thus needs both world-class hub and point-to-point capacity.
“The publication of the Airports NPS alongside the announcement that the government supports all airports in their efforts to make best use of their existing infrastructure are important steps to help the country deliver, sustainably, the connectivity it requires in the future.
“The Government’s planned Aviation Strategy now needs to set out a clear framework for aviation growth across the UK, ensuring that airports have the capacity to better link communities and businesses with domestic and international markets. In addition to today’s welcome announcements, this will require a roadmap for improved surface access, the modernisation of UK airspace as well as a presumption in favour of sustainable development of new capacity.”
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party co-leader, has said that the Government’s plan to expand Heathrow airport was ‘disastrous’ and ‘flies in the face of common sense and climate science’.
“The fact that Chris Grayling didn’t even mention climate change in his statement is an absolute disgrace. We know that expansion at Heathrow will make meeting our carbon emission targets near impossible, and that local people will suffer as a result. It’s also deeply depressing that support for Heathrow is now part of a cross-party consensus, and that some of the voices of dissent have shrunk away in recent times….History will not forgive those who failed to make a stand for what’s right at this most crucial of moments.”
Ed Thomas, UK head of transport at consultancy KPMG, commented: “Currently London is not directly connected to 128 of the biggest cities in the world and without additional capacity, this will deteriorate over time. It is forecast that by 2030, we will lack connections to 194 of the 309 cities that have populations of over two million. Of these 194 cities 16 will be in China and 15 in India, both leading emerging markets, which will power global growth. Our competitors already have connections to 41 of these cities.”
Ben Vogel, editor of Jane’s Airport Review, pointed out: “These arguments could swing the upcoming vote – but even after that, detailed planning permission must be approved; given the entrenched position of environmentalists, anti-Heathrow expansion politicians and local residents concerned about noise pollution and other aspects associated with growth at the UK hub, the road to the third runway will still be rocky. Heathrow has won this battle, but the war will go on.”
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