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UK House of Commons officially approved plans to build a third runway at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) — a plan that would expand the airport to the biggest in the world in terms of traffic.
By 2030, Heathrow’s 78 million annual passengers could increase to 110 million with this third runway, CNN reports. A three-runway airport would allow Heathrow to provide up to 740,000 flights a year, which would help it compete with European hubs like Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.
The 415-to-119 vote comes after roughly two decades of debate over how to accommodate the UK’s capacity for air traffic and tourists. After UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet approved the controversial proposal on June 5. The airport, which flies to 204 destinations in 85 countries, had 78 million passengers come through its doors in 2017. The Department of Transport predicted if Heathrow continued with just two runways, it reach total capacity by 2028.
The construction will cost around £14.3 billion (about $18 billion USD), and the runway would extend over the M25 freeway — the city’s busiest road. Critics argue the project will bring more traffic into an already heavily populated area and destroy property. The project could potentially demolish around 750 homes in the villages of Longford, Sipson and Harmondsworth. In addition, a recent report explained how a third runway would only benefit wealthy travelers.
Aside from the controversy, The UK government believes this additional runway will help the UK as it finalized its Brexit plans. “As we leave the EU, the UK must remain one of the world’s best-connected and outward-looking countries and a third runway at Heathrow is the best option to deliver this,” UK Transportation Minister Chris Grayling told UK lawmakers earlier in June.
Featured image by Katrin Ten Eikelder / Getty Images.
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