We were promised that Theresa May's government would decide on airport expansion by the end of October. Today, after years of dither and delay from successive administrations, that promise has been kept after the government announced that it was backing a new runway at Heathrow.
The case for expanding Heathrow is overwhelming. From local support to economic investment and from new flight routes to more apprentices, the benefits will be enormous. That's why we're delighted that Theresa May has made the right choice for both the country and the local area.
Heathrow is all about people with 114,000 people employed at the UK's largest single-site employer and 250,000 people who work in the local area relying on the airport economy. We believe a new runway will generate 180,000 new jobs, 10,000 local apprenticeships and £211 billion nationally - no wonder our organisation, Back Heathrow, has over 100,000 local supporters.
It's not surprising that Heathrow expansion enjoys huge support in the local area with communities near the airport set to gain through fresh opportunities and investment from a new runway at Heathrow. When Populus conducted a recent poll of more than 10,000 local residents recently, they found that 51% of residents living in the twelve parliamentary constituencies nearest to Heathrow supported expansion whilst only 35% opposed.
The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, received 70,591 responses to its public consultation and 82% were supportive of expansion at Heathrow. More than 53,000 responses in favour came from local residents compared to just 161 responses from the Stop Heathrow Expansion group.
Heathrow expansion is also backed by business groups, trade unions, exporters and most MPs in Parliament. This makes an extra runway not only politically deliverable, but also politically desirable. A recent survey of MPs found that 71% of Tory and 73% of Labour MPs back a new runway at Heathrow so the Prime Minister knows that she can count on the support of Parliament.
Following the vote to leave the European Union, the UK must capitalise on new trading and connectivity opportunities. If Theresa May is serious about making our country 'a global leader in free trade' then a new runway at the UK's biggest port is a sure way to show the world that Britain is ready and open for business.
A new runway at Heathrow will benefit the whole country as we make our way in a post-Brexit world. But it will particularly help the communities near Heathrow who will benefit from stricter conditions on noise, more jobs, extra investment and new opportunities for the local area.
Local people have been waiting years for clarity and certainty on Heathrow expansion. Now, they finally have it. But the hard work begins now if we are to make today's announcement a reality and actually build a new runway at Heathrow.
The tens of thousands of Back Heathrow supporters who feel passionately about their airport and who want it to succeed in the future have been listened to. For the national interest and for local residents, we now need to get on and follow through by expanding Heathrow.