The cabinet committee chaired by Theresa May have officially announced the approval of a third runway for Heathrow Airport.
The final decision made today has confirmed expectations that Heathrow will gain a third runway, over Gatwick. The new runway is set to facilitate hundreds of thousands more flights a year departing from the airport.
The committee were advised to base their decisions on the evidence provided from the Airports Commission which was fronted by Sir Howard Davies.
Last year, the Commission proposed two projects – a new runway for Gatwick and expansion for Heathrow airport, which concluded in a possible third runway at Heathrow.
Theresa May’s contribution to the decision has gone against Conservative policy as former Prime Minister David Cameron, was adamant to delay building a third runway at Heathrow due to concerns regarding environmental impact.
Although most ministers are happy with this decision, it is likely that many Conservative backbenchers may fail to see the good in the new plans, including Boris Johnson who remains opposed to the idea.
Although Heathrow now have confirmation of a third runway, the decision for expansion at Heathrow will be voted on by parliament in 2017 or 2018. The airport’s proposed scheme reflects an additional runway as well as a sixth terminal that will be built to the north-west of the existing perimeter. The development is estimated at £17.6 billion and will mean demolishing the nearby village of Harmondsworth.
Even though the decision has now been made, it could be up to a decade or more before building starts as further legal documents need to be approved including planning permission.
A Norwegian spokesperson said: “Norwegian has always backed Gatwick as the right choice for the UK’s next runway but we respect the decision of the UK Government. Our plans for huge expansion at our Gatwick base and other UK airports remain unchanged and 2017 will see even more new routes, increased flights and brand new aircraft in our growing UK operation.”
Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, commented on the decision: “Today’s progress towards expanding Heathrow is welcome, but we must not let airport expansion become a binary choice between two feuding airports. London would benefit culturally and economically from airport expansion at both Heathrow and Gatwick, and the new government should have the courage to rise above politics and add runways to both. It is time to put the needs of London and the UK ahead of short-term political concerns and make this investment. A global tech hub requires unrivalled international transport links, and London’s airport capacity has a long way to go to meet this target.”