The final plan for a third runway at Heathrow airport has been put forward by the government and will be voted on by parliament within the next 21 days.
Chris Grayling, transport secretary, said the £14bn project, which will nearly double the airport’s annual passenger capacity, would create tens of thousands of local jobs and boost the economy.
He confirmed that local residents affected by the plan would receive £2.6bn in compensation, including £700m for noise insulation, and said there would be six-and-a-half hours each night with no flights. He said planning permission for the new runway will only be granted if it can meet the UK’s air quality obligations.
“The time for action is now. Heathrow is already full and evidence suggests that other London airports will shortly be not far behind,” he said.
Last year there were two separate consultations receiving 80,000 responses, he told MPs, and he said the government had taken on board 24 out of 25 recommendations made by MPs on the Transport select committee.
The vote on Heathrow later this month is expected to pass fairly easily, not least because the runway has the support of the Tory leadership, the SNP and many Labour MPs.
Boris Johnson, foreign secretary and former London mayor, is the only cabinet minister expected to oppose the plan and is expected to be overseas on the day of the vote.
John McDonnell, shadow chancellor — whose seat is near Heathrow — is vehemently opposed to the scheme, unlike most of his Labour MPs and the trade unions.
Chris Richards, head of business environment policy at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said the decision had been “stuck in a holding pattern” for too long and it was time to get on with the Commons vote. “UK manufacturers with the need to export their goods around the world fully back expansion at Heathrow as a catalyst to help unlock their trade with new and emerging markets.”
Unite, Britain’s biggest union — and a Labour donor — said it welcomed the statement. “We urge MPs from all political parties to back growth for the UK economy and vote for Heathrow’s expansion to create and maintain high quality jobs,” it said.
But John Sauven, UK executive director of Greenpeace, said: “Green-lighting a new runway at Heathrow on World Environment Day is like handing out free cigarettes on World Health Day.”
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