London’s Heathrow airport may get a third runway, despite protest by local residents and the mayor

Heathrow is the dilemma of the moment for UK politicians. The world’s third-busiest airport could benefit from an additional runway, but such an expansion would inconvenience thousands of Londoners unlucky enough to live within earshot of its many airplanes. Some would suffer more than a mere inconvenience; nearly 800 homes in the area would have to be demolished for the runway to be constructed.

An advertisement poster promoting Heathrow airport is seen on the boundary of the airport, west London, March 5, 2015. Business leaders have urged Britain's political leaders to commit in their election manifestos to make a swift decision on the controversial issue of London airport expansion. A government-commissioned taskforce is due to make a recommendation this summer. Plans for expanding London's airports have been on and off the table since the 1970s. But with demand for air travel growing fast, and the largest airport Heathrow operating close to full capacity, the issue has come to a head. The current Commission is considering two options to build at Heathrow and one to add a runway to Gatwick, south of the capital. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: TRANSPORT POLITICS) - RTR4S75W
(Reuters/Toby Melville)
A campaign poster promoting expansion at London Gatwick rather than Heathrow airport, is seen in west London, March 5, 2015. Business leaders have urged Britain's political leaders to commit in their election manifestos to make a swift decision on the controversial issue of London airport expansion. A government-commissioned taskforce is due to make a recommendation this summer. Plans for expanding London's airports have been on and off the table since the 1970s. But with demand for air travel growing fast, and the largest airport Heathrow operating close to full capacity, the issue has come to a head. The current Commission is considering two options to build at Heathrow and one to add a runway to Gatwick, south of the capital. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS TRANSPORT) - RTR4S77F
(Reuters/Toby Melville)

Beyond general concerns about noise pollution, environmentally-minded citizens have pointed out that the increased traffic would make Heathrow the UK’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

The debate got even more heated today (July 1) with the release of a long-awaited report on the proposed runway by a task force chaired by the economist Sir Howard Davies. The Davies commission concluded that a third runway at Heathrow is the ideal way to handle growing aviation needs in the UK. The £17bn ($26.5 billion) expansion would allow 250,000 more flights a year, eventually adding £150 billion and 70,000 new jobs to the British economy, according to the report.

London Mayor Boris Johnson speaks on the phone as he gathers with other MPs who oppose the expansion of Heathrow airport, in central London, Britain July 1, 2015.  Johnson dismissed a proposal on Wednesday to expand Heathrow Airport as undeliverable and piled pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to reject the plan, setting the scene for a protracted political dispute. The government-appointed Airports Commission earlier recommended a third runway be built at Heathrow to add urgently required capacity, proposing a package of measures to mitigate the noise and environmental impact.  REUTERS/Paul Hackett

  

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Johnson, on the phone this morning, is appealing to prime minister David Cameron to block the construction of a third runway at Heathrow. (Reuters/Paul Hackett)

Opponents of the Heathrow expansion, including London mayor Boris Johnson, were hoping the commission would instead recommend a new island airport in the Thames Estuary, or the construction of an additional runway at Gatwick Airport, which is 30 miles south of central London.

Johnson held fast to his belief that the new Heathrow runway will never be built, whether the bulldozers are delayed by legal challenges or blocked by his own supine body.

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