Climate Action

UK Government approves controversial new runway at Heathrow Airport

Government ministers have approved final plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport in west London.

  • 05 June 2018
  • Adam Wentworth

Government ministers have approved final plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport in west London.

The long-running debate on the expansion plans were given the green light by the cabinet today, and a full vote by all MPs in Parliament will be made next month.

The issue of increasing capacity at Heathrow dates back over a decade and has proved controversial among politicians, local residents and environmentalists.

Many campaigners argue the runway should be scrapped due to public health concerns and the UK’s stringent climate change targets. The latest decision, however, contains the caveat that it must meet air quality plans before planning permission is granted.

It remains to be seen how constructing a new runway at one of the world’s busiest airports will help mitigate existing air pollution. The government has already lost three court cases over its violation of clean air laws.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced the decision in the Houses of Parliament, along with a £2.6 billion compensation package for residents, including noise abatement measures: “Expansion at Heathrow presents a unique opportunity to deliver a multibillion-pound boost to our economy, strengthen our global links and maintain our position as a world leader in aviation,” he said.

John Sauven at Greenpeace UK responded: "Green-lighting a new runway at Heathrow on World Environment Day is like handing out free cigarettes on World Health Day"

"This airstrip alone will load the atmosphere with as much extra carbon as some entire countries pump out. And it would make Londoner's air more dangerous to breathe".

Jenny Bates, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, also criticised the decision: “Heathrow expansion would be bad news for our climate and bring more noise, air pollution and misery to local residents.

“MPs must stand-up for local people and our environment and vote against this scheme.”