London airport expansion: Heathrow claims expansion would "supercharge" northern powerhouse as mayoral candidates Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan condemn plans as "madness"

Catherine Neilan
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Heathrow is upping the ante on the expansion debate

Heathrow has said its expansion would "supercharge" plans to build a northern powerhouse, as critics of the plans for a third runway swell.

The west London airport is going all-out to win government support for expansion, claiming it would be a "driving force in rebalancing the UK's economy".

The third runway would create a further 180,000 jobs, 95,000 of which would be in manufacturing. Of this, 85 per cent would be created outside of London and the South East.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: "With Heathrow expansion, we have a once in a generation opportunity to create 180,000 jobs and provide future generations with the sustainable infrastructure they'll need to keep Britain at the heart of the global economy.

"The chancellor called for Britain to build the new roads, railways and runways it needs to prosper. Heathrow is ready to build - let's make it happen."

It comes as Heathrow reports a record 6.77 million passengers travelling through the airport in September, making it the busiest September on record.

Passenger volumes were particularly strong to Mexico, which was up 16.5 per cent, China up 11.9 per cent and to the Middle East which was up 7.2 per cent.

The government is expected to announce its decision on whether to accept Sir Howard Davies' recommendation of expanding the west London airport before Christmas.

However there is growing criticism of the plans from across the party spectrum.

This weekend more than a thousand people held a protest in Parliament Square against the plans, with both Conservative and Labour mayoral candidates Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan speaking.

Goldsmith said it would be "catastrophic", while Khan called it "madness", the BBC reports.

Shadow chancellor and MP for Hayes and Harlington John McDonnell also spoke out against the plans. "In my constituency at the moment, people are literally dying. They're dying because the air has already been poisoned by the aviation industry," he said.

Green candidate Sian Berry, Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon and Ukip's Peter Whittle also spoke at the demonstration.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson has urged the government to reject the plans put forward by the Airports Commission, describing it as "a short-termist and environmentally disastrous solution". The Mayor favours a new airport in the Thames Estuary, the so-called Boris Island.

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