Heathrow Airport has received approval for expansion by a committee of UK government ministers, with parliamentary approval expected by the end of next year.
Members of parliament are unlikely to vote on the decision until the winter of 2017-18 and then there are likely to be legal and political challenges.
The Government appointed Airports Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies released its report in July 2015, recommending Heathrow Airport receives approval for a third runway, with options to either extend an existing one or a new runway at Gatwick Airport.
The Government says a new runway at Heathrow will bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61 billion and up to 77,000 additional local jobs are expected to be created over the next 14 years while the airport has committed to create 5,000 new apprenticeships over the same period.
The Government also says Heathrow already handles more freight by value than all other UK airports combined, accounting for 31 per cent of the UK’s non-EU trade, and its expansion will create even more opportunities for UK business to get their goods to new markets.
Government transport secretary, Chris Grayling says: “The step that government is taking today is truly momentous. I am proud that after years of discussion and delay this government is taking decisive action to secure the UK’s place in the global aviation market – securing jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond.
“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.”
A number of influential politicians and cabinet ministers are opposed to it, including education secretary, Justine Greening and foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.
Heathrow Airport handles about 1.5 million tonnes of cargo a year, and volumes have grown by 2.1 per cent in the first nine months of 2016 to 1.1 million tonnes. In September volumes were up 5.9 per cent to 126,109 tonnes.