The UK government announced their decision to built a third runway at Heathrow on Tuesday, ending decades of indecision and speculation.
The move by Prime Minister Theresa May is her most controversial since taking office in July, with Tory MP for Richmond Park Zac Goldsmith threatening to resign if Heathrow expansion was approved.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had also been opposed to the expansion of Heathrow, accusing the government of “running roughshod over Londoners’ views”.
“A new runway at Heathrow will be devastating for air quality across London – air pollution around the airport is already above legal levels of NO2″ he said.
“Heathrow already exposes more people to aircraft noise than Paris CDG, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Madrid combined. A third runway would mean an extra 200,000 people impacted, exposing 124 more schools and 43,200 more schoolchildren to an unacceptable level of noise.”
Transport Minister Chris Grayling fully supported Tuesday’s decision:
“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.”
According to a three-year study by Britain’s independent Airports Commission, the third runway at Heathrow will increase the gross domestic product by between 0.65 and 0.75 percent and create 70,000 new jobs by 2050, representing a 147 billion pound boost to the economy over the next 60 years.
Widespread protests and legal challenges are expected to follow the decision, with the focus of the campaign being air quality, climate change commitments and large demolishment of the village of Harmondsworth.
Heathrow airport is owned by Spanish infrastructure company Ferrovial (BME:FER), Qatar Holding, China Investment Corp and other investors. The expansion costs will be paid for by the private sector.