Chris Grayling gives green light to controversial third runway at Heathrow
Chris Grayling has today announced that the Government will go ahead with the construction of a controversial third runway at Heathrow airport.
The Transport Secretary made the pledge in a Commons statement this afternoon, describing it as an "historic moment" after years of delays.
The announcement came after the Cabinet approved the decision to expand the airport at a meeting this morning.
Mr Grayling said: "This government has a clear vision – to build a Britain that is fit for the future, a Britain with a prosperous jobs market an economy that works for everyone.
"That is why I come to this House to mark a historic moment.
"Today I am laying before Parliament our final proposal for an Airports National Policy Statement, which signals our commitment to global connectivity, creating tens of thousands local jobs and apprenticeships and boosting our economy for future generations by expanding Heathrow airport."
MPs will now vote on the issue within the next few weeks, which could pose a problem for Theresa May as many Tories are vehemently opposed to the plan. Her wafer-thin Commons majority means she will likely have to rely on the support of Labour and SNP MPs to get the proposal through Parliament.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is an outspoken critic of the expansion, has reportedly been told he will be able to head overseas to dodge the vote, and may even be allowed to speak out against its construction.
He has previously said he would "lie down in front of the bulldozers" to prevent a third runway at the London airport.
The news was welcomed by influential business group the CBI, whose deputy director general Josh Hardie said: "It’s fantastic that the new runway at Heathrow is getting closer to take-off. All the more so as the United Kingdom has waited for nearly half a century for this decision."
But Green party MP Caroline Lucas blasted the decision, dubbing it a "disastrous" move which "flies in the face of common sense and climate science".
She also called on Heathrow's opponents to unite to defeat the Government, and accused Mr Johnson of “unforgivable cowardice” over his plan to be absent during the crucial vote.
"History will not forgive those who failed to make a stand for what's right at this most crucial of moments," she said.
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald meanwhile said Labour would only back a third runway if its "four tests" were met.
"Expansion should only happen if it can effectively deliver on the capacity demands, if noise and air quality issues are fully addressed, if the UK’s climate change obligations are met in their entirety and that growth across the country is supported," he said. "We owe it future generations to get all of these factors absolutely right."