Parliament has said yes to expanding Heathrow Airport, with 415 members of parliament supporting a third runway at the London airport.
Following a vote in the House of Commons, the government won the vote by a majority of 296, with Conservative MPs under orders to support the government, Labour MPs being given a free vote and the SNP abstaining.
Ahead of the vote, transport secretary Chris Grayling said the expansion would be governed by five key pledges: no cost to taxpayers; economic boost to the country with benefits of up to £74 billion; guaranteed benefits for the whole of the UK with 15 per cent of slots for domestic routes; environmental protection built in, meeting air quality obligations and a ban on scheduled night flights; and making pledges legally enforceable with punishments of unlimited fines or grounded aircraft if promises are broken.
The move has been welcomed by the industry, with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director general, Carolyn Fairbairn describing it as a “truly historic decision” that will “lift prosperity across the country”.
She says: “The race for global competitiveness is well underway and the UK must now be quick off the mark – work on the new runway should start as soon as possible. The prize is tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of growth for the British economy.
“As the UK forges a new path to trade, we must also make the best use of existing runways in regions across the country. A truly global Britain will need increased connections and routes from the whole of the UK, now and for the future.”
SEGRO, which owns over five million square feet of industrial property at London’s airports, welcomed the move.
Chief executive officer, David Sleath says: “The vote in favour of a third runway at Heathrow is great news. We have long supported the need for additional capacity at the UK’s hub airport – the largest port by value. The third runway will double cargo capacity, securing British trade links to the global economy. This is a significant milestone but now we must build the momentum for delivery.”
Heathrow Airport will now prepare an application for development consent, which if granted should mean construction starts in 2021 with the new runway opening in 2026.
The airport’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye says: “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.”