Gordon Brown is facing increasing internal opposition to a third Heathrow runway as rebel Labour MPs have backed plans for a new London airport.
With a decision over the additional Heathrow runway possible as early as this Wednesday, the MPs have launched a cross-party parliamentary group to back the construction of an airport on the Thames estuary.
The new airport was originally proposed by London mayor Boris Johnson, and is now being back by the rebel Labour MPs, along with Conservatives and environmental campaigners.
Meanwhile, captains of industry have reiterated their pro third runway stance today by taking out a series of newspaper adverts, under the umbrella of the Future Heathrow group.
The adverts say that construction of a third runway is vital for jobs, economic prosperity and the UK’s long-term economic competitiveness.
Supporters of a third runway argue that only a major international hub airport like Heathrow can provide the breadth of direct flights to long-haul destinations that the UK needs to stay competitive in the long-term.
British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh told The Telegraph: “A third runway would be fantastic news for jobs and investment in Britain. The rest of Europe has already built extra capacity at its hub airports and will be ready to benefit when the economic recovery comes. Britain cannot afford to slip further behind.”
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Aviation is key to the UK economy and the unions are committed to supporting the sustainable development of Heathrow - not only leading to the creation of many more quality jobs but also meeting local noise and air quality standards and ensuring the CO2 emissions from aviation growth are consistent with the UK’s new carbon budgets.”
The Times newspaper reports that a third runway is a certainty, and that Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, will approve the £13 billion project this week.
A series of mass protests have been planned in the build up to the decision. Climate Rush is planning to block the departure gate at Terminal 1 on Monday evening. It intends to occupy the terminal until the government decision is made.
The protest is being advertised on the Climate Rush website as a “peaceful picnic” starting at 7pm. The website states: “Our argument is not with those who must fly. To this end we shall do our utmost to allow airport users to go about their business.”
The organisers, some of whom were involved in planning the runway invasion at Stansted airport, intend to block the departure gate and terminal entrances.