The UK parliament has backed the expansion of Heathrow Airport with a third runway, ending decades of political debate.
The vote clears the way for Heathrow to submit an application for development consent for the project, which is expected to create tens of thousands of new skilled jobs across the UK.
Over the next 12 months, the airport will sign £150m (US$199m) worth of contracts with British businesses. Heathrow will also announce the locations of the off-site logistics hubs that will allow businesses across the country to get involved with what is expected to be one of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects.
John Holland-Kaye, CEO at Heathrow, said, “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.”
Over the coming days, the secretary of state for transport is expected to designate the final airports national policy statement approved by Parliament. This will set the policy framework for Heathrow’s northwest runway development consent application.
Heathrow is currently preparing to hold a second public consultation on its plans before submitting a development consent order application to the planning inspectorate, starting an approval process expected to take 18 months.
In addition to Heathrow’s consultation, the development consent process aims to provide further opportunities for residents and stakeholders to influence Heathrow’s proposal. If Heathrow is granted development consent, construction would begin in 2021 ahead of the new runway opening in 2026.
The approval process
While the vote is good news for the hub and the hundreds of companies that will earn work from the expansion, some have questioned the process of approval for such works.
Mathew Riley, managing director of engineering and design consultancy Rambol UK, told PTT, “While this is good news for the economy and our industry, the reality is that is has taken successive governments 20 year to make a decision, and we still have the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn saying he may reverse this decision if Labour form the next government.
“This whole process serves to demonstrate why politics alone cannot be allowed to dictate the fundamental needs of critical infrastructure in the UK.
“The National Infrastructure Commission need to be given more power to influence long-term plans, as the current approach provides little reassurance to investors, who we will rely on to finance these investments.
“Going forward, it is essential that the government now provide full and consistent backing for this important addition to UK infrastructure.”
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