LONDON – After over 20 years of debates, the third runway at London-Heathrow Airport has finally been given the green light by the UK Government.
The UK Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has said that “this is a historic moment for Heathrow.”
The project will cost the UK government £2.6 Billion in compensation fees for the resident’s noise abatement measures. He said it would only proceed if air quality obligations are met.
The plans for the expansion were initially approved in 2009 under a Labour government, but when the Liberal Democrats – Conservative government coalition took over in 2010 they decided to shelve the plans for five years.
The new Runway would see Heathrow take an additional 260,00 flights every year, which would add an estimated £74 Billion to the British economy over 60 years.
Still A Long Road Ahead
This doesn’t mean, however, that the expansion will go ahead. And even if it does, there will no doubt be challenges on the decision in the UK courts, towards residents not willing to leave their homes for the runway’s construction.
There have been other plans placed forward, other than a third runway at Heathrow.
Many have argued and campaigned for London’s other major airport, Gatwick, to get a second runway.
Gatwick has also reached its maximum operating capacity and, with the demand for air travel continuing to grow, a decision needs to be taken to make sure the UK doesn’t fall behind the rest of Europe.
More Pollution Ahead
This third runway expansion will stop the UK Government from reaching their Co2 emissions target, according to numerous analysts. But, with the increased fuel efficiency of planes, and Heathrow’s ongoing effort to make its visiting airlines more conscious, the goal may be equally attainable.
“This airstrip alone will load the atmosphere with as much extra carbon as some entire countries pump out,” said Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven.
A private investment firm will fund the expansion. And even if work started this year, the project will not be close to completion until 2026.
MP’s in both parties will have the option to vote on the plans in a few weeks.
In the meantime, although the cabinet has made approval, the MPs in the House of Commons will have the opportunity to put this through or continue its hiatus of progress.