RUNWAY DECISION: ‘Momentous’ step for the Government

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The Government has taken a ‘momentous’ step after showing its support for a new runway at Heathrow.

The Department of Transport announced yesterday it was backing plans for a third runway at the London based airport instead of a second runway at Gatwick Airport.

The development is expected to create around 77,000 jobs over the next 14 years, as well as 5,000 new apprenticeships and bring economic benefits of up to £61 billion.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “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.

“A new runway at Heathrow will improve connectivity in the UK itself and crucially boost our connections with the rest of the world, supporting exports, trade and job opportunities. This isn’t just a great deal for business, it’s a great deal for passengers who will also benefit from access to more airlines, destinations and flights.

“This is an important issue for the whole country. That is why the government’s preferred scheme will be subject to full and fair public consultation. Of course it is also hugely important for those living near the airport. That is why we have made clear that expansion will only be allowed to proceed on the basis of a world class package of compensation and mitigation worth up to £2.6 billion, including community support, insulation, and respite from noise – balancing the benefits and the impacts of expansion.”

In July 2015 the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, recommended expansion at Heathrow but didn’t rule out a second runway at Gatwick.

Gatwick argued that it could deliver a second runway quicker and cheaper than expansion at Heathrow, but campaigners have suggested the area’s infrastructure is inadequate to cope and raised concerns about the noise impact on residents under existing and new flight paths.

Similar concerns over noise and infrastructure were raised by campaigners against expansion at Heathrow.

The Department of Transport said it would be proposing six-and-a-half hour ban on scheduled night flights and would introduce ‘legally binding’ noise targets to address noise pollution.

It has also said the development was deliverable within air quality limits if necessary mitigation measures are put in place, in line with the National air quality plan.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport added: “Meanwhile, the government wants to see the continued prosperity of the UK’s second busiest airport, and the world’s busiest single runway airport, Gatwick.

“Its continued success will drive competition in the sector, which is good for passengers and the prosperity of the nation, drawing inward investment, trade and growth.”

The decision will be subject to a ‘full and fair’ consultation before it is finalised next winter.

The scheme will now be taken forward in the form of a draft ‘National policy statement’ (NPS) for consultation.

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