Conservative party conference: Heathrow expansion is ready for take-off, Chris Grayling confirms

Catherine Neilan
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The Debate Over The Third Runway At Heathrow Airport Continues
Prepare for take off (Source: Getty)

Please stow your hand luggage and put your seat in the upright position: the Heathrow expansion is finally about to take off.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling today confirmed that the third runway should receive the formal go-ahead in the first half of next year.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference, the transport secretary said it was still "subject to the necessary consultation work and securing the backing of parliament" - but it's the first step forward since it was given the green light last October.

Since then the airport has lost its crown as Europe's number one for direct connectivity, as a direct result of capacity issues. The two-and-a-half-mile runway aims to boost capacity at the airport by 50 per cent, allowing 740,000 flights a year.

Grayling said: "The expansion of Heathrow will make a difference right across this country. Here in Manchester and the north. In Scotland and Northern Ireland. Across the West and the South. Places where new air links to Heathrow will open up new opportunities for enterprise and jobs."

Grayling said it was just one example of huge infrastructure projects, designed to improve the UK's transport system.

He cited examples such as the Northern Powerhouse Rail, which Philip Hammond today confirmed an extra £300m funding, Crossrail 2 and HS2, acknowleding "many of you have doubts about HS2", but insisting it would mean "more commuter trains, and thousands of extra seats in the rush hour, here in Manchester, in Leeds, in Birmingham, in London."

However, Labour has reaffirmed its pledge to stand in the way of the airport's expansion plans on environmental grounds.

Speaking at a fringe event organised by the No 3rd Runway Coalition at last week’s Labour party conference, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the third runway was “never going to happen”.

McDonnell, whose constituency covers Heathrow, said tests involving noise and emissions could not be met.

Heathrow has insisted the tests would be met.

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