Why a third Heathrow runway could bring massive benefits to North East

A British Airways plane takes off from Heathrow Airport, as the long-awaited decision on which airport expansion scheme should get the go-ahead is to be finally made.
A British Airways plane takes off from Heathrow Airport, as the long-awaited decision on which airport expansion scheme should get the go-ahead is to be finally made.
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Newcastle Airport chiefs have welcomed the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow.

The Government has chosen to adopt a third runway at Heathrow as its preferred option for airport capacity in the South East, rather than at Gatwick.

It's a controversial decision which will give campaigners in the South glum faces, but bosses at Newcastle International Airport said the move, which came a recommendation by the Airports Commission, could be great news for the North East.

Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at Newcastle International Airport, said: “We are pleased that the Government has agreed with the recommendations of the Airports Commission and decided in favour of expanding Heathrow.

"We will now support the Government and others to ensure that the third runway is built and to maximise the benefits to the North East that this development will bring."

He added: “The North East currently enjoys good connectivity into Heathrow with up to six British Airways services a day, supporting over 500,000 passengers to and from the North East. By constructing a third runway, and providing additional capacity, we hope these services can be safeguarded, and can in the future also connect to a much wider range of global destinations.”

Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, and Lead for the LA7 Shareholders, said: “The future success of the North East economy is dependent upon our region having good connectivity. Heathrow remains our largest hub connection.

"I welcome the fact that the Government now favours the expansion of Heathrow, given that in recommending the Heathrow option the Airports Commission recognised its importance to regions such as the North East.”

Chamber Chief Executive James Ramsbotham urged the regions MP's to support the decision and the benefits it would bring to the North East and the UK as a whole.

"“As a Chamber representing 4,000 business members we have been staunch advocates of Heathrow expansion as the right option to ensure North East businesses continue to enjoy the access they need to markets around the world," he said.

“North East England is a globally-facing, exporting region and access to the UK’s international hub airport is a vital part of that success.

“We currently enjoy excellent connectivity to Heathrow via Newcastle International Airport and the potential for a new route to Durham Tees Valley is great news.

“A green light for airport expansion allows our businesses to make investment plans safe in the knowledge that our region’s connection to Heathrow is secure and that it has the capacity needed to support future economic growth.

“In the aftermath of the EU Referendum it is more important than ever that we, as a country and a region, are globally connected. This expansion emphasises our ambition.”

Concerns and potential legal challenges

A public consultation will now be held on the impact of a third runway at the west London hub before the final decision is put to MPs for a vote in the winter of 2017/18.

A new runway could be operational by 2025.

Prime Minister Theresa May has moved to head off possible Cabinet resignations by giving ministers freedom to speak out against the Government's decision, with the possibility of Heathrow expansion fiercely opposed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening.

Tory MP Zac Goldsmith intends to honour his pledge to resign and force a by-election in Richmond Park and Kingston North in protest at the outcome, the local Conservative Association confirmed.

The Government has proposed that a six-and-a-half-hour ban on scheduled night flights will be introduced for the first time, as well as more stringent night noise restrictions.

The timing of the ban will be determined through a consultation.

The Department for Transport (DfT) claimed that the new runway will bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61 billion.

Heathrow said it is ready to deliver a third runway that is "fair, affordable and secures the benefits of expansion for the whole of the UK".

Business groups, politicians and trade unions welcomed the decision as an end to years of "dithering" over the issue.

But environmental groups expressed concern about the impact on climate change and some local residents expressed anger that there could be hundreds of thousands of more flights each year.

The Government is expected to face legal challenges over the decision.