Heathrow airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. In 2017, it saw 78 million passengers through its gates, which is a record for the airport and a 3.1% increase on 2016.
It sits 23km west of Central London and is one of six international airports that serve Greater London. Located in the London borough of Hillingdon, it currently has two, parallel running runways that serve four functioning terminals. Hillingdon itself is home to roughly 273,936 residents across 22 wards.
On June 5th, the UK government voted in approval of the plans for a controversial 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport, with the view to improve regional connectivity by adding an additional landing slots specifically geared up for this.
The build itself presents problems. With the increased traffic to and from the airport, both via road and sky, the UK will struggle to meet the air emissions target, which they have pledged to be at “net zero” by 2050, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80%.
The project is set to cost £14bn, with an additional £2.6bn in compensation for those that live near the planned location for the new runway and soundproofing solutions as some residents will be subjected to noise frequently. The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says that the project, which is to be completed by 2023, could be funded entirely privately. Ministers have said, though, that UK taxpayers could pick up the shortfall for the billions that will be spent on additional roads and road improvements that will need to take place.
The positive vote has been said to be a landmark decision, with the Heathrow expansion being discussed for almost 20 years. Whilst the Conservative government has given the project their backing, the larger Parliament is set to vote on July 11th.
Those in opposition have put up a strong defence against the building of the airport, stating that, with an extra 700 planes a day landing and taking off, both air and noise pollution will rise dramatically. There will also be significant disruption to the nearby villages of Harmondsworth, Sipson and Longford as hundreds of homes could be demolished to make room for the runway. The MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, has said that he will ‘lie down in front of the bulldozers’ to oppose the construction. Several environmental groups have also come forward in opposition, citing the rise in pollution is a serious worry.
Others have suggested the expansion of other airports across the UK, such as Gatwick, as Heathrow being the hub of the UK seems outdated.
Mr Grayling has said that the expansion could create 600,000 jobs and £70bn in revenue annually by the 2050s should the bill go through Parliament in July. He has also stated that the runway cannot be built if air quality rules are not met and there is to be a ban on flying at night, with the runway being so close to a residential area.
July 11th will bring the casting vote, and residents will discover whether they are set for a 3rd runway at the busiest airport in the UK.