MPs back third Heathrow runway in Commons vote

By Luke Barras-hill |

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UK MPs have backed plans for a third runway at LHR. Source: LHR.

The UK Government has won a decisive vote paving the way for the £14bn ($18bn) north-west runway expansion at London Heathrow Airport (LHR).

The majority decision, which was pushed through by 415 to 119 votes, ends decades of political wrangling over one of Britain’s largest infrastructure investment decisions.

LHR will now prepare an application for development consent under the Government’s approved Airports National Policy Statement (NPS).

If granted, construction of the divisive north-west runway would begin in 2021, ahead of its opening in 2026.

LONG-HAUL DEVELOPMENT

In a statement, LHR says the approval will unlock billions in growth, secure tens of thousands of new jobs and ensure the airport expands sustainably.

As already established, the move will create up to 40 new long-haul routes for LHR and foster greater competition and choice for passengers.

Over the next 12 months, the airport has pledged to sign £150m ($199m) worth of contracts with British businesses, creating 900 jobs and 200 new apprenticeships.

In addition to the economic benefits, it will deliver a £2.6bn ($3.5bn) compensation package to local residents, action a six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights and introduce a triple-lock guarantee to meet air quality obligations.

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LHR will now file a development consent application to the Planning Inspectorate, which if granted would permit construction of a third runway to begin in 2021 ahead of a 2026 opening. Source: LHR. Click to enlarge.

An elated John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow commented: “Parliament has ended 50 years of debate by deciding that Heathrow expansion will go ahead. This vote will see us deliver more jobs, create a lasting legacy of skills for future generations and guarantee expansion is delivered responsibly.

“Heathrow is currently preparing to hold a second public consultation on its plans before submitting a development consent order application to the Planning Inspectorate, kick-starting an approval process expected to take 18 months. In addition to Heathrow’s consultation, the development consent process will provide further opportunities for residents and stakeholders to influence Heathrow’s proposal.”

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Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye: “We are grateful that MPs have made the right choice for Britain and today we start work to create the best connected hub airport in the world.”

LEGAL CHALLENGES EXPECTED

Conservative MPs in the House of Commons were under instruction to support the government, while Labour Party MPs were given a free vote on the issue.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was not present for the crucial vote held yesterday evening due to commitments in Afghanistan in a twist of events that drew attention away from the proceedings.

Final proposals for the expansion were set out earlier this month in the NPS, with the UK government making assurances that the expansion costs ‘would not fall on the taxpayer’.

The third runway expects to increase passenger capacity from 85.5m to 130m by 2035 in a move that will surely be greeted by travel retailers.

Unsurprisingly, the result does not signal the end of a long-running debate that has intensified in course since the government announced its support in 2016, with further opposition and legal challenges expected.

In a message on Twitter, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I will join the legal action brought by local authorities in opposition to #Heathrow expansion. The government is pressing ahead with the wrong option, resulting in intolerable noise levels and worsening air quality. Gatwick is the better option.”

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