Third runway finally gets Government thumbs up

Heathrow planes The government has given the approval for Heathrow's third runway, but opposition is likely to continue through the planning process.

Indeed, the announcement prompted one angry reaction immediately, when local MP, John McDonnell brought a halt to the debate by grabbing the mace and shouting "disgrace", which brought about his ejection from the chamber.

Transport minister Geoff Hoon made the Commons announcement of official Government approval for the third runway and sixth terminal. He claimed that the environmental controls – on noise and air quality – together with an initial cap on new flights of 125,000 a year, and only allowing the "cleanest planes" on the new runway would make Heathrow subject to the "toughest climate change regime for aviation of any country in the world ".

Hoon said there would be investment in alternative transport links, with improvements to the capacity of the motorway network, and a company set up to investigate high-speed rail links to Scotland and the North (although he has been beaten to this by Arup). He aso acknowledged a "strong case" for a new rail hub at Heathrow.

Both opposition parties were unimpressed with the announcement, with the Tories saying they'd reverse the decision if they won power.

Boris Johnson wasn't wild about the decision either: "this is a truly devastating blow for millions of Londoners whose lives are now set to be blighted by massive increases in air pollution and noise". H also challenged Gordon Brown to turn up in Hayes at his 'People's Question TIme' to defend his decision.

Cllr Barbara Reid, LB Hounslow's spokesperson on the issue, and representing the 2M Group of local authorities opposed to the runway, said they were considering mounting a legal challenge, which Mayor Johnson said he would back. Whatever happens, this will not be the end of the saga. See the Government announcement, and the BBC story.

BAA said they expect to submit plans in 2011.

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