The UK’s Tory government has given the green light to the construction of what has long been seen as an essential third runway for the country’s busiest airport, London Heathrow, also known as Heathrow Airport.
The need for expansion of capacity of airports located near London has been the topic of heated debate for some considerable time and the desire to expand the capacity of Heathrow, in particular, discussed for over 20 years.
Major objections have come from local residents, while other campaigners have been critical of the increased levels of both noise and carbon dioxide pollution that will ensue from what is envisaged to be an increase in capacity of 700 planes a day.
It is anticipated that the new runway will be completed by 2026 and the funding for the £14 billion (US$18.75 billion) cost will be funded from private sources. The airport is owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings, which itself is owned by FGP TopCo Ltd., an international consortium led by Ferrovial and which also includes Qatar Holdings and China Investment Corporation.
According to Ferrovial, the Spanish infrastructure firm, the current airport is operating virtually at capacity and the creation of a third runway will increase the airport’s capacity from 85.5 million to 130 million passengers per annum. It is estimated that the expansion will create somewhere in the region of 60,000 new jobs, while generating up to £70 billion (US$94 billion) in economic benefits by 2050.
In relation to the original plans submitted for governmental approval, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed that 24 out of 25 improvements recommended by Transport Select Committee had been accepted, stating that the new runway would provide a “vital legacy” for the British economy.