Pressure Mounting on Heathrow Runway Decision


As people turn their attention to holiday destinations for the autumn and winter, there’s one more decision that needs to be resolved: where to place London’s new runway.

The debate for Heathrow vs. Gatwick has recently been exacerbated by union and government alike.

With Heathrow looking increasingly like the winner, how will Prime Minister Theresa May move forward?

Unions put on the pressure

Union leaders have warned PM Theresa May that further delays to the expansion of London’s Heathrow Airport will “harm the whole of the UK.”

Heathrow is the UK’s hub airport and according to the Airports Commission, expansion will create up to 179,800 jobs and up to £211bn in economic benefits across the UK by 2050.

Areas outside of London and the South East are expected to be greatly benefited from the expansion, with The West Midlands, for example, forecast to receive an increase of £9.7 billion GDP for Heathrow, compared to £6.7 billion for Gatwick.

The letter sent from TUC leaders back findings from the above report, and include signatories like TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady and Len McCluskey, leader of Unite. In a statement, Ms. O’Grady said: “If we want a stronger economy, we must build the infrastructure British industry needs to compete in the world.”

The final push

Theresa May has responded by putting in place a short time frame in which the final decision must be brought forth. She has also agreed to chair a cabinet committee to make the final decision on Heathrow’s third runway plan, in order to push for a resolution by October.

The main obstacle to expansion is that Ms. May’s cabinet’s constituencies are in the flight path of Heathrow – Ms. May’s Maidenhead’s constituency included.

Promoting the sceptics

One particular vocal member of parliament is Secretary of State, Justine Greening, MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields.

“Trying to expand Heathrow is like trying to build an eight-bedroom mansion on the site of a terraced house,” she said. “It is a hub airport that is just simply in the wrong place.”

Another prominent anti-Heathrow figure is Chancellor Philip Hammond, who last year said: “London’s role as an international air transport hub can be maintained without additional runways at Heathrow.”

Looming deadlines

So the question remains: with Theresa May’s self-imposed deadline looming, what decision will the Prime Minister take: with the split being jobs and investment in favour of Heathrow expansion, and politics, noise and air pollution on the other side, will Heathrow get a third runway?   

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