UK MPs back controversial Heathrow Airport expansion

UK MPs back controversial Heathrow Airport expansion
Copyright  REUTERS/Toby Melville
By Emma Beswick

UK MPs support Heathrow Airport expansion by 415 votes to 119, majority 296

British MPs Monday supported plans to expand Heathrow Airport by 415 votes to 119.

The decision has long divided parliament, regardless of party lines, with some opposed to the threat of extra noise and air pollution in London, particularly its western regions.

Prior to the vote, around a dozen demonstrators lay on the floor of the central lobby in the country's House of Commons.

Greenpeace made clear its intention to bring a legal challenge against the third runway within minutes of the result.

It will join London Mayor Sadiq Khan, as well as a cross-party group of London councils, in taking the government to court.

Khan called the result "the wrong decision" but assured Londoners "it's not the end".

Notable in his absence at the vote was Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a vocal critic of the planned £14 billion (€15.8 billion) third runway, who Monday travelled to Afghanistan.

Johnson, who said he would lie down in front of bulldozers to block the airport's expansion, defended missing the vote rather and his decision not to resign by saying it would "achieve nothing".

Opposition MPs shouted "Where's Boris?" as a Tory MP — ex-trade minister Greg Hands — resigned from the government over the Heathrow plans, urging colleagues to join him.

Heathrow's chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, lauded the decision: "Parliament has ended 50 years of debate by deciding that Heathrow expansion will go ahead. This vote will see us deliver more jobs, create a lasting legacy of skills for future generations and guarantee expansion is delivered responsibly," he said.