The UK Government's Cabinet has approved controversial plans for Heathrow Airport's third runway expansion, with ministers set to vote on the proposal in early July
Plans for third runway at Heathrow have finally been confirmed today (5 June), ending one of the longest and most divisive build ups to any UK infrastructure project in history.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced to MPs the project has been approved by the Cabinet and said the vote on the airport expansion must be taken within 21 parliamentary sitting days of today, which will be around early July.
The project, which could cost anywhere between £14bn and £31bn according to conflicting reports, could be ready by 2026 and increase capacity at the UK’s busiest airport from 85.5 million annual passengers to 130 million.
It has attracted controversy due to the significant impact it will have on the surrounding area, including the likely demolition of 700 homes, but the Government said it would provide a £2.6bn compensation package due to the scheme’s status as a national economic priority.
Here’s what some of the key figures in the story of Heathrow’s expansion are saying in light of the news.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling
“This country has one of the largest aviation sectors in the world, contributing £22 billion to our GDP, supporting half a million jobs, servicing 285 million passengers, and transporting 2.6 million tonnes of freight last year.
“The time for action is now. Heathrow is already full and the evidence shows the remaining London airports won’t be far behind.
“Despite being the busiest two-runway airport in the world, Heathrow’s capacity constraints mean it is falling behind its global competitors – impacting the UK’s economy and global trading opportunities.”
CBI deputy director-general Josh Hardie
“It’s fantastic that the new runway at Heathrow is getting closer to take-off. All the more so as the UK has waited for nearly half a century for this decision.
“Expanding our aviation capacity, and creating new flight routes to rapidly growing markets, is mission critical to ensuring Britain can compete on the post-Brexit world stage.
“The new air links the runway will created will unlock growth and help create jobs at home, enable more businesses – especially our many innovative and ambitious small and medium-sized ones – to export their goods and services to booming markets.
“Our aviation capacity is set to run out as early as 2025, so it’s crucial we get spades in the ground as soon as possible.
“From Southampton to the Shetlands, firms in all parts of the UK will be looking to their MPs to approve the National Policy Statement, giving a timely vote of confidence in Global Britain’s future.”
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairs MP
“The UK Government’s proposals to back Heathrow expansion send a clear message about our ambitions for Britain’s future.
“They are plans that have had my full backing from the outset.
“From logistics hubs to supply chain opportunities, Wales has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to play a part in the delivery of one of the most exciting infrastructure endeavours seen in Britain for generations.
“By expanding Heathrow, we can plug every region of Britain into the global economy – showing that we are open for business, confident about who we are as a country, and ready to trade with the rest of the word.”
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Britain’s biggest trade union Unite
“Heathrow expansion, one of the biggest construction projects in Europe, answers the demands of many Unite members across the UK – for more skilled, well-paid and sustainable jobs.
“Expansion will deliver these jobs and growth to every nation and region of the UK, whilst Heathrow deliver on the work they have been doing to address environmental concerns; all at a critical time for UK workers.
“I would strongly urge Members of Parliament to vote in favour of expansion at Heathrow.”
British Chambers of Commerce Director General, Dr Adam Marshall
“Business communities across the UK want an end to decades of political indecision and an unequivocal green light for Heathrow expansion. A resounding vote for Heathrow expansion in Parliament would do more than just unlock this crucial infrastructure project, as it would give a huge boost to business confidence and investment at a time of significant change.”
Executive director of pro-expansion campaign group Back Heathrow Parmjit Dhanda
“More residents living near the airport support Heathrow expansion than oppose it, so this is good news for local people who have been waiting for far too long for a decision.
“The people that live in the diverse local communities near Heathrow are crying out for the jobs, apprenticeships and opportunities that a new runway will create.
“We urge MPs to listen to local people, who are the scheme’s greatest champions and its biggest beneficiaries. It’s time to get on and build it.”
John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, the opposition group that represents communities under the Heathrow flightpath
“This is a bad day for residents. Many communities will face a tsunami of noise if a third runway goes ahead.
“Many people who will be under new flights paths will find their lives changed forever.
“We will continue to oppose a new runway but, obviously, if it becomes inevitable, we will fight for the best conditions possible for residents.”
Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas
“I can’t quite believe Chris Grayling’s statement on Heathrow didn’t mention climate change even once.
“The biggest crisis this planet faces – aviation is one of fastest-growing sources of emissions – yet not one word.
“Government claims to be ‘green’ are increasingly look like a bad joke.
“And sadly Labour seems to share same fantasy that Heathrow expansion could be compatible with our climate change commitments.
“Government aviation forecasts show no scenario in which expansion is compatible with commitment to limit air passenger growth to 60% by 2050 – another fudge.”