Heathrow airport third runway approved by British MPs
The British Parliament approved on June 25, 2018, the controversial expansion of London Heathrow airport (LHR), the busiest in Europe, by building a third runway. London mayor and local councils announced they would start legal action against the decision.
The project was approved by 415 votes against 119. Despite division on the question within the party, the government imposed the Conservative MPs to support the expansion. The announcement of the whipped vote led to the resignation of Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, on June 21, 2018. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson, who, when elected in 2015 promised he would “lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway”, was absent during the vote.
The project met severe opposition from local authorities and civilians concerned by additional noise and pollution. Four local councils, London mayor Sadiq Khan (who supports the expansion of Gatwick instead) and Greenpeace UK announced they would challenge the Parliament’s decision in court.“A larger Heathrow means more toxic fumes in an area of London already suffering from illegal levels of pollution”, commented John Saven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK. The NGO criticized the date of the vote, three days before a Climate Change Committee progress report.
Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, the parent company of British Airways, is also a firm opponent to the project. “Parliament has approved Heathrow’s expansion without any idea of how much it will cost”, he said in a statement. “We have zero confidence in Heathrow management’s ability to deliver this project while keeping airport charges flat”. Walsh announced he could bring the matter to the British Civil Aviation Authority. Besides the financial concerns, IAG may also fear the competition that a third runway would bring, as British Airways currently holds more than half of Heathrow’s slots - the most valuable in the United Kingdom.
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