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UK government give go-ahead to third runway at Heathrow Airport

Six years after the Conservative-led coalition government scrapped plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport, just west of London, the go-ahead has finally been given for a third runway as opposed to creating a new airport or adding a second runway at nearby Gatwick Airport. The move is seen as a strategic win for business over political and environmental issues.
The go-ahead will pave the way for thousands more flights a year at the UK’s premier airport. The UK’s Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling was swift to announce that: “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.”
This is the first new full-length runway to be built in the South-East of England since the Second World War and it is estimated that adding a new runway at Heathrow has the potential to bring economic benefits worth up to £61bn (US$74.5bn), as well as creating up to 77,000 additional local jobs.
Parliament will vote in 2017 or 2018 on the decision to expand the airport, so there will be plenty of time for further lobbying to take place. Based on the current proposal, an additional runway and a sixth terminal will be constructed to the north-west of the existing airport perimeter, which will involve the levelling of the nearby Harmondsworth village. It is understood the cost will be in the region of £17.6bn (US$21.5bn).
A spokesman for Heathrow Airport commented: “We welcome the news that Heathrow is government’s preferred site for a new runway and look forward to hearing the full details later from the transport secretary.
“Expansion of Heathrow is the only option that will connect all of the UK to global growth, helping to build a stronger and fairer economy. We await the full details, but Heathrow stands ready to work with government, businesses, airlines and our local communities to deliver an airport that is fair, affordable and secures the benefits of expansion for the whole of the UK.”
The government has made it clear that passenger should not be left to foot the bill for the third runway. According to BATA, the airline trade body, “We will be scrutinizing this decision and future, more detailed, plans. Heathrow is the most expensive hub airport in the world – and airports are not funded by the taxpayer but by passengers. Today’s passengers must not pay for capacity that will not be operational until the mid-2020s.”

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