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Cabinet set to make decision on third runway at Heathrow

Proponents of building a third runway at the major hub say it is the best option to increase capacity and boost the national economy

The Cabinet is set to finally decide on whether to give the go ahead for a third runway at Heathrow.

The divisive issue is on the agenda as Prime Minister Theresa May chairs a meeting of ministers on the Cabinet’s economic sub-committee.

If the committee signs off the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), it will then go before the full Cabinet for approval later on Tuesday morning.

If the project gets the green light, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is likely to make a statement to MPs, who are expected to be given a vote on the NPS within 21 sitting days.

Approval would be a political headache for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, who has said he would “lie down in front of bulldozers” to stop the proposed runway.

Proponents of building a third runway at the major hub say it is the best option to increase capacity and boost the national economy while being cost-effective.

However, critics warn the plan is “expensive and complex” and bad for the environment – while one group hinted legal action may be taken against the Department for Transport (DfT) over its “dodgy” handling of the process.

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The plan for a third runway has been met by protests (PA)

Alternative schemes include expanding Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

Any announcement in favour of a third runway is likely to be met with dismay by MPs from across the divide whose constituencies are already affected by Heathrow air traffic.

On Monday, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, whose Twickenham seat stands to be affected by expansion, branded the scheme “ill-conceived”.

Meanwhile Extend the Runway, a group advocating increasing capacity by lengthening the airport’s northern runway, said the DfT “lacks both expertise and attention to detail” and had not listened to its proposal.

“People should have zero confidence that the DfT have run a rigorous process on Heathrow’s expensive and complex plan,” the group said on Twitter.

The No Third Runway Coalition, which counts Sir Vince and Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell among its members, said the DfT’s process had been “dodgy and has favoured Heathrow Airport Ltd from the start”.

“That will be proven in court, if it comes to it,” they added.

The Aviation Environment Federation said it is “extremely unlikely that the Government will have been able to find solutions to key challenges related to the environmental impacts of expansion”.

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(PA Graphics)

The group said: “The Aviation Strategy, which is being taken forward under a separate process to the Heathrow NPS, will set out how the environmental impacts of aviation nationally should be tackled, but will not be consulted upon until later this year with publication of the final strategy not expected until the middle of next year.

“The decision on Heathrow is set to be taken, therefore, in the absence of any policy on how to tackle aviation’s carbon emissions, so with no clarity on whether limits on aviation growth will be needed in order to meet climate change obligations.”

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