After many years of deliberation, Heathrow Airport has become the clear front runner for extensive expansion plans, with the Airports Commission backing a proposal for a third runway at the transport hub.
Sir Howard Davies's report states that the third runway would bring £147bn in economic growth to the country and create 70,000 jobs, while also opening up the airport to flights to and from 40 new global destinations.
The best answer is to expand Heathrow's capacity through a new north-west runway," Sir Howard said.
"Heathrow is best placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets.
"It provides the greatest benefits for business passengers and the broader economy. Adding capacity at Heathrow also provides an opportunity to change the airport's relationship with its local communities."
Calling the recommendation "clear and unanimous", Davies did however temper the proposal with the warning that any expansion would have to be met with an aviation noise levy to fund sound insulation for homes and schools. A commitment to reasonable levels of clean air quality were also among his recommendations.
Expansion at Heathrow would require the demolition of as many as 800 homes, and would cost £17.6bn to complete, and a further £5bn to ensure adequate road and rail transport links.
Gatwick Airport, which has campaigned for a second runway, is still a "credible" option according to the report (it's overall cost would be closer to £7bn), though would have less potential to create economic growth as it would not be able to deliver as many long-haul destinations. [Gov.uk]