Government approves Heathrow airport expansion

The government has approved the expansion of Heathrow airport, to include a third runway, in order to expand the UK’s airport capacity.

The news follows a study conducted by Sir Howard Davies, published in 2015, which recommended building a third runway at Heathrow, a new runway at Gatwick or extending one of Heathrow's existing runways.

Commenting on the announcement, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "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."

The decision over whether airport capacity should be expanded in the South East of England has been one of controversy, with many critics warning of increased air and noise pollution.

A public consultation is now set to be held on the effects of airport expansion before the government makes a final decision as part of a national policy statement on aviation.

MPs will then vote on that decision in the winter of 2017-18, although it is unlikely that the new runway will be operational before 2025.