London has given the green light to build a controversial third runway at Heathrow, already the world’s busiest airport.
The decision has been welcomed by the aviation industry but has enraged environmentalists and local residents. The project also includes the construction of an extra terminal. Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon says the expansion is vital for the economy. “Doing nothing would allow extra capacity at other airports hubs like Frankfurt, Schipol and Charles de Gaulles. Doing nothing will damage our economy and will have no impact whatsoever on climate change,” he said. Hoon also said there was a strong case for a new high-speed rail network at Heathrow. But critics describe the expansion as an environmental catastrophe and there is fierce opposition in the small village of Sipson, which will be literally wiped off the map to make way for the new runway. “They’ve not listened to the people once again, they’re siding with big business. I’m also sad because my childrens’ school will be demolished, the community of Sipson will be demolished,” said the village school teacher. Opponents of the project argue it will jeopardise Britain’s plan to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and that it violates European Union pollution and noise standards. The goverment denies this, saying it will meet environmental conditions by using quieter, cleaner-running aircraft.