Ministers back airport
Cabinet finally approves Heathrow runway extension
Heathrow: operating at capacity
Despite agreeing a £2.6 billion compensation package for residents in the area the environmental campaign is also expected to continue. MPs will be asked to vote on the expansion plan by 11 July.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said it will only go ahead if air quality commitments are met.
He insisted the decision was being taken in the national interest and would benefit the whole of the UK – with 15% of new landing slots at the airport “facilitating” regional connectivity.
He said the £14bn runway, which could be completed by 2026, would be funded entirely privately – but MPs warned that taxpayers would end up footing the bill for billions in road improvements and other upgrades and warned that the UK’s carbon emission targets would be threatened by the increase in traffic around the enlarged airport.
Heathrow’s owners say the airport is virtually full and a new runway, which is hoped would be operational between 2025 and 2030, would increase its capacity from 85.5 million to 130 million passengers.
The expansion is estimated to create about 60,000 jobs and generate about £70bn in total economic benefits by the 2050s.
Mr Grayling said it would provide a “vital legacy” for the British economy and said he had accepted 24 out of the 25 recommendations made by the Transport Select Committee to improve the plans.
Residents whose houses are knocked down will get compensation worth 125% of their value – as well as legal fees and stamp duty costs paid for – while £700m would be available to fund noise insulation measures for those who decide to stay.
He said a ban on night flights was an “absolute requirement” and non-negotiable while he said landing charges paid by airlines must stay at current levels.
Sir Howard Davies, whose 2015 review recommended a new runway as long as environmental and community impacts were addressed, said “significant” concessions had been made on reducing early morning flights and minimising the impact on residents.
The decision is likely to be supported across the UK as a step towards greater connectivity with key markets.
Liz Cameron, director & chief executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Now is the time for Parliament to demonstrate that the UK is open for business.
“Expanding UK’s aviation capacity by giving the thumbs up for Heathrow’s third runway is critical in boosting our position in the global economy, and will provide much-needed confidence to international investors and our trading allies.
“Scotland’s business community will look to MPs to ‘green light’ this vital infrastructure project, unlocking economic growth and jobs creation in Scotland and the UK.”
Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “It’s fantastic that the new runway at Heathrow is getting closer to take-off. All the more so as the United Kingdom has waited for nearly half a century for this decision.
“Expanding our aviation capacity, and creating new flight routes to rapidly growing markets, is mission critical to ensuring Britain can compete on the post-Brexit world stage.
“The new air links the runway will create will unlock growth and help create jobs at home, and enable more businesses – especially our many innovative and ambitious small and medium-sized ones – to export their goods and services to booming markets.
“Our aviation capacity is set to run out as early as 2025, so it’s crucial we get spades in the ground as soon as possible. From Southampton to the Shetlands, firms in all parts of the UK will be looking to their MPs to approve the National Policy Statement, giving a timely vote of confidence in Global Britain’s future.”