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UK government backs third runway at Heathrow

Construction of a third runway at London Heathrow airport has gained the UK government's support.

"The scheme will now be taken forward in the form of a draft 'National policy statement' (NPS) for consultation," says the Department for Transport in a statement that describes government backing for the runway as "a major boost for the UK economy".

It adds: "The government's decision on its preferred location, which will be consulted on in the new year, underlines its commitment to keeping the UK open for business now and in the future and as a hub for tourism and trade."

The department puts the economic benefits at "up to £61 billion" ($75 billion) and indicates "up to 77,000 additional local jobs" will be created over the next 14 years.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling states: "I am proud that after years of discussion and delay this government is taking decisive action to secure the UK's place in the global aviation market – securing jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond."

The scheme, he adds, will "only be allowed to proceed on the basis of a world-class package of compensation and mitigation worth up to £2.6 billion, including community support, insulation, and respite from noise – balancing the benefits and the impacts of expansion".

The Airports Commission, in its final report delivered in July last year, recommended that a third runway be built at Heathrow. It had previously shortlisted this option along with a proposal to extend Heathrow's existing runways and another to build a second runway at Gatwick, both of which options have now been dismissed by the government.

Heathrow plans to build a 3,500m northwest runway which will increase its capacity to 740,000 air traffic movements per year at a cost of £16 billion.

It says it will construct a sixth terminal and reconfigure its existing terminal buildings into two main terminals – Heathrow East and Heathrow West – with a "toast-rack" formation of satellite terminals.

Earlier this year, then-transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin told a select committee that a third runway would be deliverable by 2030, thanks to a 2008 planning act which lays out strict timetables for each stage of the process for such a project, including a time limit on applications for judicial review.

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