On Tuesday, the government announced its approval of a third runway at Heathrow to expand the UK’s airport capacity. The move comes six years after the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition scrapped plans for the same thing. Parliament will vote on the matter in 2017 or 2018.
Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, has said he is “truly proud that after years of discussion and delay” this “momentous” decision has been taken. But there is fierce opposition to it—including on the government’s benches. Boris Johnson has said it is “undeliverable,” while former London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith is to resign over the issue.
Widespread protests are expected to follow from locals: 10,000 homes may be flattened, and the nearby village of Harmondsworth is to be demolished. Climate change campaigners are likely to mount vocal opposition, too, given concerns about the runway’s impact on Britain’s emissions targets.
Who’s right? Is the business case simply too strong to ignore, or would expansion of Gatwick be the better choice? Do we really need more airport capacity at all? Experts share their thoughts.
A sign of determination
Stephen Crabb, Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire and former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
The decision in favour of a third runway at Heathrow sends a powerful signal about our commitment to strategic national infrastructure and our determination to succeed in the global economy. Heathrow provides what no other UK airport can—namely a large hub operation with a truly global reach that underpins our success in terms of trade and inward investment. It is also the option that maximises economic opportunities for all other parts of the United Kingdom. In this case what is good for the South East is good for the North, for the Midlands, for Scotland, Wales and for Northern Ireland too. Investing in Heathrow is the right choice for our long term national interest.
The argument lies in tatters
Sarah Olney seeks the Liberal Democrat nomination for Richmond Park in the forthcoming by-election