The Government has announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow despite environmental concerns.
Whitehall argued the new runway would bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61bn, and create 77,000 additional local jobs over the next 14 years.
5,000 new apprenticeships would also be opened up over the same period, the Government claimed.
‘The step that Government is taking today is truly momentous,’ said transport secretary Chris Grayling.
‘I am proud that after years of discussion and delay this government is taking decisive action to secure the UK’s place in the global aviation market – securing jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond.’
‘A new runway at Heathrow will improve connectivity in the UK itself and crucially boost our connections with the rest of the world, supporting exports, trade and job opportunities,’ he continued.
‘This isn’t just a great deal for business, it’s a great deal for passengers who will also benefit from access to more airlines, destinations and flights.’
However, environmentalists have condemned the decision.
Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said: ‘We won’t tackle climate change if Heathrow or Gatwick airports are allowed to expand.
‘Expanding airports anywhere will also cause more noise and air pollution, with millions of people under flightpaths facing hundreds of extra flights every day.
‘We can’t keep giving the green light to climate-wrecking activities such as more flights and fracking.’
Responding to the decision, Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, said: ‘Contrary to all the evidence, Theresa May has decided to forge ahead with the expansion of Heathrow airport regardless of the dreadful impact this will have on the local community, London and indeed the planet.
‘This decision is clearly incompatible with Britain's recent agreement to ratify the Paris Agreement and will further contribute to air pollution for my constituents in London and beyond.
‘Following the disastrous decisions on Hinkley and in Lancashire, a very worrying pattern is emerging with regards to this Government's commitment, or rather lack of commitment to the environment, the health of its citizens and common sense.’
London mayor Sadiq Khan has also hit out at the Government's decision to expand Heathrow, describing it as 'devastating for air quality across London'.
'This is the wrong decision for London and the whole of Britain,' he said.
'The government are running roughshod over Londoners' views – just five months ago I was elected as Mayor on a clear platform of opposing a new runway at Heathrow, a position that was shared by the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and UKIP candidates in that election.
'A new runway at Heathrow will be devastating for air quality across London – air pollution around the airport is already above legal levels of NO2.'
'An expanded Gatwick would have boosted our economy without causing these huge air and noise pollution problems and it could be built quicker and cheaper,' he added.