Government gives green light for third runway
Transport secretary says decisive action needed to secure jobs and businesses
THE government has backed a third runway to be built at Heathrow Airport.
Officially announcing its support, transport secretary Chris Grayling said Tuesday’s decision marked a ‘momentous’ step.
The government’s backing will be subject to a public consultation and has already received criticism from campaigners.
Mr 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,” he added.
“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.”
Among senior Tories who have vehemently opposed a third runway at Heathrow is Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP Boris Johnson, who argued against the proposal during his eight years as London Mayor, and Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, who ran for London mayor earlier in the year and is now rumoured to be considering resigning his seat in protest. Mr Johnson was expected to deliver a speech after the Gazette had gone to press.
In a Tweet, Mr Goldsmith said: “Following the Government’s catastrophic Heathrow announcement, I will be meeting my constituents later today before making a statement.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor and MP for Hayes have both hit out at today’s decision.
Mr Khan said the government is “running roughshod over Londoners’ views” and said: “Heathrow expansion is the wrong decision for London, and the wrong decision for the whole of Britain.”
Mr McDonnell said: “I’ll continue to support my constituents in campaigning against this runway so that it never sees the light of day.”
Keith Taylor, a vocal antiexpansion 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.”
Supporting the decision the Back Heathrow campaign said it was ‘now or never’ for expansion. Campaign director, Rob Gray, said: “Building a new runway at Heathrow has plenty of cross-party support in Parliament and backing from the majority of international airlines, business groups, trade unions, exporters and communities surrounding the airport. This is a golden opportunity for the UK that must not be squandered.”
Following the decision there is likely to be another public consultation and it is expected MPs will vote on the matter next year.