Senior British ministers are set to approve a new runway at London’s Heathrow airport, paving the way for lawmakers to vote on the issue later this month, and building to start in the coming years.British ministers expected to approve new Heathrow runway
Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport but it is now full. In the past plans to expand the airport have faced opposition from local communities, environmentalists and some lawmakers, but the current 14 billion pound ($18.64 billion) expansion plan is likely to get the go-ahead.
That would end almost half a century of indecision on how and where to add new airport capacity close in densely populated south east England. The new runway will be the first full-length runway to be built in the London area in 70 years.
The BBC reported that the cabinet is expected to back the plan on Tuesday, following which the transport minister Chris Grayling will make a statement in parliament, with a vote taking place within 21 days.
An independent commission recommended Heathrow as the site for a new runway in 2015, saying that adding capacity there would bring the country the greatest economic benefits and government has based its policy on these findings.
Business leaders and some lawmakers have argued that a bigger Heathrow is even more important since Britain voted to leave the EU, as the expanded airport will enhance trade links and provide a boost to economic growth.
The approval is expected despite some high profile opposition from lawmakers including foreign minister Boris Johnson as polling by ComRes shows that a majority of lawmakers intend to vote in favour of expanding Heathrow.
Heathrow, owned by Ferrovial, Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corporation among others, will then have to secure planning permission, with construction slated to start in 2021 and the new runway operational by 2026.
Heathrow last came this close to expansion in 2010 but a change in government led to permission being withdrawn, and the current plan could still face legal challenges.
Opponents of expansion claim that a bigger Heathrow will cause more noise and air pollution, issues that the government’s policy will try to address by imposing conditions on the airport, such as banning some night flights