The Government has chosen Heathrow as the location for the extra runway for the south east of the UK.
A Cabinet committee made the deicision this morning, and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling made the official announcement at around 1pm today.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The step that government is taking today is truly momentous. I am proud that after years of discussion and delay this government is taking decisive action to secure the UK’s place in the global aviation market – securing jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond.
“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.
“This is an important issue for the whole country. That is why the government’s preferred scheme will be subject to full and fair public consultation. Of course it is also hugely important for those living near the airport. That is why we have made clear that expansion will only be allowed to proceed on the basis of a world class package of compensation and mitigation worth up to £2.6 billion, including community support, insulation, and respite from noise – balancing the benefits and the impacts of expansion.”
A decision is welcome, and brings an end to a period of prevarication which has harmed the UK economy. However, this is not the end of the road. Despite the seemingly endless consultation and discussion, some will not accept that a decision in the national interest has been taken.
Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary and MP for Uxbridge descrided the plan as “undeliverable”, while MP for Richmond Zac Goldsmith resigned in protest.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, described the decision as “wrong for London”. He continued: “Just five months ago I was elected as Mayor on a clear platform of opposing a new runway at Heathrow, a position that was shared by the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and UKIP candidates in that election.
“Heathrow already exposes more people to aircraft noise than Paris CDG, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Madrid combined. A third runway would mean an extra 200,000 people impacted.
“I will continue to challenge this decision and I am exploring how I can best be involved in any legal process over the coming months.”
Heathrow Airport unsurprisingly welcomed the news, and released a statement saying: “Expansion of Heathrow is the only option that will connect all the UK to global growth, helping to build a stronger and fairer economy.
“We await the full details, but Heathrow stands ready to work with Government, businesses, airlines and our local communities to deliver an airport that is fair, affordable and secures the benefits of expansion for the whole of the UK.”
The Airport also said: “We are prepared to move quickly to expand and now intend to start the process of promoting a planning application for the new runway. ”
Support also came from David Sleath, SEGRO’s CEO, who commented: “We welcome the Government’s support for a third runway at Heathrow, which gives business confidence that the new Government is serious about infrastructure delivery and maintaining Britain’s position as a global trader. As a company, we have been clear from the outset that for Britain to succeed in the global economy, we need more capacity at a hub airport, and Heathrow is the right solution. What’s more, 84% of our customers support this decision. Air cargo accounts for 40% of Britain’s exports by value, and more goods leave Britain via Heathrow than from all other UK airports combined. Giving the go ahead for a third runway would provide a shot in the arm for the many established businesses and SMEs across the UK that rely on access to international trade markets.
“Expansion at Heathrow will allow Britain’s businesses to connect with emerging markets and create new opportunities, demonstrating that Britain really is open for business. We urge the country to come together and do what is right for the nation as a whole, which is to support the delivery of a third runway at Heathrow”.