Industry welcomes MPs' decision to back plans for third runway at Heathrow

As widely expected, MPs have overwhelmingly backed plans to build a third runway at London’s Heathrow airport. Parliamentarians backed the plans in the Commons by 415 votes to 119 - a majority of 296. 

Conservative MPs were ordered to support the government, Labour's official position was to oppose expansion, but its MPs were given a free vote, while the SNP abstained.

Welcoming the decision to support the plans for a third runway, the CBI said it was “a truly historic decision that will open the doors to a new era in the UK's global trading relationships”. However Greenpeace UK said it would join a cross-party group of London councils and London mayor, Sadiq Khan, in a legal challenge against the third runway.

Now that parliament has given its approval, detailed planning can start. The vote will be a boost to the embattled transport secretary Chris Grayling who said that the airport’s expansion would provide a “vital legacy” for the British economy.

By 2030, the scheme will have created an extra 77,000 local jobs, providing a huge boost to the local economy and is expected to bring approximately £61bn of economic benefits in the next 60 years.

The construction sector welcomed the decision by MPs to back the plans. Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt said: “I’m pleased that MPs have today given their backing to the expansion of Heathrow Airport, finally making much-needed progress towards increasing our country’s airport capacity. This country’s busiest airports have been stretched to their limits for years - action is long overdue to ensure we can get people from A to B easier and increase routes into new and emerging markets. Today’s decision has been years in the making and so I hope Ministers now move quickly to maintain the momentum now that this crucial hurdle has been cleared.”

ACE chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin said that the decision would be welcomed by the entire industry and would give send a strong signal that UK was able to plan and deliver major infrastructure projects. "It is excellent news that parliament has backed this major project and a real signal of intent that the UK has the vision to plan and deliver significant infrastructure projects. Expanding capacity at Heathrow will provide a massive boost to the industry, creating jobs and the capacity to invest in skills and will be welcomed by the entire sector. We just need to get on and build the project now and deliver a world class facility that will make a real difference to UK plc."

Colin Wood, managing director, transportation UK&I at AECOM, commented: "Today’s vote is an important milestone for the future of infrastructure here in the UK. We’re extremely pleased to see that the majority of MPs in Westminster share our belief that the expansion of Heathrow airport is the right decision for the UK. It’s taken far too long for this decision to be made, so we must now focus on accelerating delivery. The government must act decisively, working with industry to secure the necessary planning approvals as well as the private funds needed to deliver this vital project.”

David Whysall, managing director of UK infrastructure at Turner & Townsend, said: “There is little doubt of the ambition and economic potential of Heathrow.  The expansion will be the UK’s largest privately funded construction project, generating thousands of jobs and business opportunities nationwide, boosting passenger and cargo capacity, and forging new links around the world. This is also a mega project that provides a critical opportunity to positively disrupt the UK construction sector.

“It’s an opportunity to challenge the way we have delivered infrastructure in the past and forge a new sustainable industry model - one which provides a legacy of new skills in digital, manufacturing and off-site assembly, with expertise formed throughout the construction supply chain, and shows that the UK is a world leader in setting up and delivering major projects. It will act as a beacon for attracting and retaining talent in the sector at a time when we face an acute skills crisis. Successfully delivering the third runway will not only boost our capacity for international trade, but prove the worth of the UK infrastructure sector as a desirable export on the international stage.”

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