Heathrow Airport was last night given the go ahead by the UK Parliament to expand and build a third runway as MPs voted 415 to 119 in favour of the contentious £14 billion development plan.
MPs from across political parties joined forces to support the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement and the UK hub said it is now preparing an application for development consent which will see construction begin in 2021.
However, the pathway to expansion is unlikely to be smooth amid legal bids by environmental campaigners and local communities to get the massive project stopped.
Heathrow said the vote unlocks billions of pounds in growth and creating tens of thousands of new skilled jobs across the UK in the early years of Brexit.
The airport said Britain won’t have to wait long for the benefits of an expanded Heathrow, as over the next 12 months alone, it will sign £150 million worth of contracts with British businesses, creating 900 new jobs and 200 new apprenticeships.
Heathrow will also announce the locations of the off-site logistics hubs that will allow businesses across the country to get involved with what will be one of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects.
The airport said Parliament’s historic vote is the culmination of a rigorous, evidence-based selection process – including review by the independent Airports Commission and the Government – which determined not only that expanding Heathrow offers the greatest benefit to all of the UK, but that it can be done sustainably.
Heathrow said with up to 40 new long-haul trading links, double the cargo capacity, more competition and choice for passengers and new domestic flights – an expanded Heathrow will make Britain the “best connected country in the world” and “sends the strongest signal to date that Britain is open for business”.
The airport said there is also a commitment to deliver an expanded Heathrow affordably with airport charges staying close to today’s levels.
Heathrow chief executive officer (CEO), John Holland-Kaye said: “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.
“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.”
“Over the coming days, the Secretary of State for Transport is expected to designate the final Airports National Policy Statement approved by Parliament.
“This will set the policy framework for Heathrow’s northwest runway development consent application. 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. If Heathrow is granted development consent, construction would begin in 2021 ahead of the new runway opening in 2026.”
Commenting on yesterday’s vote in the House of Commons, Virgin CEO, Craig Kreeger said: “We firmly believe that Heathrow is the right choice for expansion and applaud this landmark parliamentary vote.
“As the country’s only hub airport, Heathrow is uniquely placed to support continued growth in UK trade and tourism – sending a strong signal to the world that we’re open for business.
“An expanded Heathrow must provide desperately needed, and long overdue airline competition to deliver more international destinations, lower fares and better connectivity to UK regions.
“As we look to the future there are still a lot of important milestones and decisions ahead. It’s important that Heathrow, the Government and airlines maintain the momentum to deliver an expansion which offers value for money for passengers, effective competition, and is mindful of the community.”