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Heathrow third runway in the queue for take-off

[ June 5, 2018   //   ]

The Cabinet has approved plans for a third runway at Heathrow, paving the way for a vote by MPs on the controversial issue. However, a positive outcome can by no means be relied on.

Many MPs, along with one Cabinet Member, foreign secretary Boris Johnson, are vehemently opposed to the scheme, arguing that it will lead to an increase in aircraft noise and could also lead to a breaching of statutory pollution limits.

Many Conservative MPs, many of them representing wealthy constituencies within earshot of Heathrow, oppose the plan.

The Labour Party when it was last in power pushed through an earlier, not abandoned version of the third runway scheme. However, not all its MPs are in

To minimise acrimony in the Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May may allow Conservative MPs to abstain, in the hope that would be enough pro-runway MPs on both sides of the House to push the plan through.

Bringing the long-running third runway saga to an end could be seen as a political coup for the beleaguered Prime Minister Theresa May and her minority Conservative government.

With the Brexit issue still undecided, it would send out a message that the UK is still ‘open for business’ despite the UK’s impending exit from the European Union.

The freight industry gave the news a cautious welcome. BIFA director general Robert Keen said he hoped that it would mark “the beginning of the end of years of procrastination over the expansion of UK aviation capacity. If that is the case, it is long overdue good news for our 1,500 member companies who have been dismayed over the ongoing delay on such a huge issue.”

However the track record of parliament on the issue over the past 20 years meant that the outcome was by no means a foregone conclusion.

He added that while transport secretary, Chris Grayling has suggested that the plan could be put through an expedited planning procedure, with no reopening of high level arguments, legal challenges and the convoluted planning processes were still likely, which: “lead me to wonder whether any expansion will be completed by the time that UK aviation capacity is predicted to run out in 2025.

Heathrow Airport itself was more bullish, saying that independent showed strong cross-party support, with 75% of MPs backing the airport’s expansion. It has now written to all MPs urging them to vote in favour. It says  the project would boost the economy by billions, open up to 40 new long-haul trading routes for Britain’s exporters and create tens of thousands of new skilled jobs across the country.

At the Freight Transport Association (FTA), chief executive, James Hookham said: “If Britain is to diversify its economy away from European trade after Brexit, business will need increased capacity at the country’s main cargo hub.  MPs now need to ensure that the decision can be ratified in the next 21 days for the good of British business.”

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