Parliament has approved the building of a third runway at Heathrow – but many believe it will be at least a decade before it is open.
MPs voted 415 to 119 in favour of expanding Heathrow on Monday evening (June 25) with the Conservative-led government resorting to a whipped vote to ensure the support it needed.
Foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who had vowed to lie down in front of the bulldozers if the runway was approved, missed the vote due to foreign office commitments in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Theresa May said.
Many have accused Johnson of shirking the Heathrow vote, with the proposed new runway likely to have significant ramifications for his Uxbridge constituency.
Heathrow Hub, a consortium advocating an alternative third runway proposition by extending the existing northerly runway west and dividing it into two, claimed the plan approved by parliament would never be built.
Jock Lowe, Heathrow Hub director, said: “The third runway plan is so complicated, noisy and expensive it will either never be built, or will be delayed by years and vastly over budget. It is passengers, airlines and local communities who will pay the cost.”
Transport secretary Chris Grayling has insisted the taxpayer “is not going to be paying for the expansion of Heathrow airport” and said there would be no big rise in landing charges. However, IAG has claimed the cost of the project will mean passenger fees doubling to £40.
The row over how the project is funded will only add to the inevitable legal battle that will begin once homeowners and other groups affected by the third runway begin their own challenges.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, which represents UK carriers, said: “The secretary of state must enforce his stated aim of keeping passenger charges at today’s levels.”
Manchester Airports Group, which owns Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands aiports, called for investment to be spread more broadly, including improvements to rail links at Stansted.
“Government must match its support for a third runway at Heathrow with specific and practical proposals to maximise the potential of other airports - not least because new capacity at Heathrow is more than a decade away,” said a spokesperson.