Britain backs Heathrow airport expansion despite splits

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The British government approved a new third runway at London’s Heathrow airport on Tuesday in a long-awaited decision that comes amid deep divisions and follows decades of debate over the issue.

“The government today announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow — the first full length runway in the southeast since the Second World War,” an official statement said after a cabinet meeting.

“A new runway at Heathrow will bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61 billion.”

It said up to 77,000 additional local jobs are expected to be created over the next 14 years, while the airport has committed to create 5,000 apprenticeships over the same period.

Following Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union, the government said the decision would show commitment to being “open for business now and in the future and as a hub for tourism and trade”.

But there is strong environmental opposition to the expansion and the approval process could still delay or even block its execution over the coming years.

Ministers opposed to the plans will be granted the rare opportunity to voice their dissenting views, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, and Education Secretary Justine Greening.