Third runway at Heathrow cleared for takeoff by ministers

A British Airways aircraft taxis in the early morning at Heathrow airport in west London, Britain October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

The government has approved a third runway at Heathrow to expand UK airport capacity.

Ministers approved the long-awaited decision at a cabinet committee meeting on Tuesday.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling called the decision “truly momentous” and said expansion would improve the UK’s connections with the rest of the world and support trade and jobs.

He will make a statement to the House of Commons about 13:00.

A wide range of unions and business groups welcomed the decision to expand Heathrow. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said it was “absolutely vital for Britain”, while CBI chief Paul Drechsler said it would create jobs and boost economic growth.

Heathrow management said the airport was ready to deliver a third runway that was “fair, affordable and secures the benefits of expansion for the whole of the UK”.

However, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said it was the wrong decision for both London and the UK.

Expanding airport capacity in the South East of England has been a political hot potato for many years.

Although Heathrow has always been the favourite among businesses, it has attracted the most opposition from MPs with constituencies near the airport or under flight paths.

Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond Park, had threatened to resign if Heathrow expansion was approved and called the announcement “catastrophic”. He is expected to make a statement later on Tuesday.

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency includes Heathrow, said he had opposed expanding the airport for the past 30 years and that “nothing has changed”.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening also have been vocal critics of Heathrow expansion.

Ms Greening is expected to give her reaction to the decision in a message to her constituents in Putney, south-west London, while Mr Johnson will also make a statement.

 

Source: BBC