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    An aircraft lands at Heathrow Airport near London, Britain, December 11, 2015

    UK Watchdog Raises Pollution Concerns as Cabinet Approves New Heathrow Runway

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    LONDON (Sputnik) - The UK citizens are concerned about the environmental effect of the Heathrow airport's expansion through the construction of the third runway, approved by the cabinet earlier in the day, the chairman of the HACAN citizen group, John Stewart told Sputnik on Tuesday.

    "The government has already said that Heathrow wouldn't expand if air pollution limits were going to be broken, but once you've got a third runway built there's a lot of impetus to use it as much as possible. If you look at any air pollution maps then the areas in the red are of course central London and the area around Heathrow, so the government have a big challenge on how further air pollution can be dealt with if a third runway is built," Stewart said.

    The chairman of the civic group noted that it is difficult to predict whether the Parliament would approve the expansion as the Labour party appears to be split over the issue, but nevertheless the government is likely to "get a majority of sorts."

    "We don't deny that Heathrow and a third runway will bring certain economic benefits, but our view is that the environmental and community disbenefits outweigh those," Stewart stressed.

    Earlier in the day, UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said that his ministry understands public concerns and has held meetings with the local residents, but the approval of the new runway is dictated by national interests and economic prospects.

    The expansion of the airport was backed by the UK cabinet earlier in the day and now this issue will be considered by the Parliament. The vote is expected to take place in early July. Previously, the UK public has repeatedly opposed the new runway due to the increased noise level, air pollution, as well as the difficult traffic situation near the airport.

    The UK authorities estimate that the runway's construction will increase traffic by an additional 260,000 flights a year as well as bring some 74 billion pounds ($98 billion) to the state budget over the next decades.

    In July 2016, the Airport Commission's final report backed a proposal for opening the third runway at Heathrow. The project to build the third runway at London's biggest airport is estimated to require 16 billion pounds, as well as the demolition of nearly 1,000 homes. The construction is expected to begin in 2021.

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    Tags:
    concerns, runway, burden, expansion, pollution, environment, HACAN citizen group, John Stewart, Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom
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