Thursday, September 16

The long battle over London Heathrow airport expansion


Passengers queue to pass passport control upon arrival at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.

Passengers queue to pass passport control upon arrival at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.
Reuters

The expansion of London’s Heathrow airport has been accompanied by a huge and long-standing controversy. Its approval was only achieved in December of last year after more than a decade of political and judicial battles. The economic arguments collided with the environmental ones. Located west of the capital, currently equipped with four terminals and two lanes, its extension involves changing roads and the route of the M25 motorway, diverting rivers and destroying 761 homes, including the Longford suburb.

Political and judicial divisions

The project for the third runway, controlled by Spain’s Ferrovial, was approved in the 2009, by then Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown. A year later, the conservative David cameron, leading a coalition government with the Liberals, radically rejected it. Other alternatives, such as the creation of a new airport on the Thames estuary, were studied without success, but in the 2018, con Theresa May As Prime Minister, Parliament approved the third track. Boris Johnson, who being MP for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip district very close to Heathrow said he was fervently opposed and willing to “Lie down in front of the bulldozers”, To avoid construction, he was absent on the day of the vote in the House of Commons.

Environmental organizations and residents of the airfield area appealed the expansion in court. Among the plaintiffs were organizations such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Plan B and the Mayor of London, the Labor Sadiq Khan. They argued that a new track violated the Paris Agreement on climate change with the British Government’s commitment to eliminate polluting carbon emissions from the economy by 2050. The London Court of Appeal agreed with them, but Ferrovial appealed the ruling and the Supreme court it ruled in his favor and annulled the previous ruling.

Priority to the economy

In the debate on the expansion of Heathrow the economic factor has been decisive in the defense of the project. According to the Ministry of Transport, the expansion will benefit passengers, it will be an injection of 61 billion pounds (71,441 million euros) for the economy and will create 77,000 local jobs by 2030. Other sources highlight that more than 40% of British exports to countries outside the European Union are made through Heathrow. The construction will also involve new terminals and more parking spaces.

In the debate on the expansion of Heathrow the economic factor has been decisive in the defense of the project. According to the Ministry of Transport, the expansion will benefit passengers, it will be an injection of 61 billion pounds (71,441 million euros) for the economy and will create 77,000 local jobs by 2030. Other sources highlight that more than 40% of British exports to countries outside the European Union are made through Heathrow. The construction will also involve new terminals and more parking spaces.


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