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Greens Lose Another Battle, UK Govt Green-Lights Heathrow Expansion

Public Finance

The government will give the go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow airport, which ministers said would provide a boost to the UK’s economy.

The controversial decision was announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling today, who said that the “truly momentous” step would secure the UK’s place in the global aviation market after years of delay.

“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,” he stated.

“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.”

He added there would now be a full public consultation on the plan, as well as “world class” package of compensation and mitigation worth up to £2.6bn, including community support, insulation, and respite from noise.

Local authorities could receive a funding boost of up to £450m through full business rate retention, which could be used to promote local economic development, ministers noted.

Expansion at Heathrow will bring economic benefits worth up to £61bn, according to Grayling. Up to 77,000 additional local jobs are expected to be created over the next 14 years and the airport has committed to creating 5,000 new apprenticeships over the same period.

Expansion costs will be paid for by the private sector, not by the taxpayer, the government said. The Civil Aviation Authority will work with Heathrow Airport and airlines on the detailed design and costs to ensure the scheme remains affordable. Ministers said they would expect the industry to deliver a plan for expansion that keeps landing charges close to current levels.

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