Terminal five cleared for take-off
London's Heathrow Airport has been given the go-ahead for a fifth terminal.
Transport Secretary Stephen Byers made the announcement in the House of Commons on Tuesday, following a four-year public inquiry into the scheme.
"Now T5 has been given the go-ahead, we shall be looking very closely at the conditions attached"
T5 opponent Peter Brown
Airlines, trade unions and big business welcomed the new terminal, which Heathrow's operator, BAA, hopes will be operational by 2007.
BAA first applied for planning permission for the terminal, known as T5, 14 years ago.
However, environmental campaigners and local councils remained bitterly opposed to T5, which could push up Heathrow's annual passenger numbers by more than 20 million.
Friends of the Earth, which has run a long campaign against T5, claims the public inquiry was turned into "a farce" by the government, because it was not "neutral" about the proposal.
An FoE statement also claims BAA has "not done proper analysis of potential disadvantages, such as 'over-heating' the economy, noise and air pollution and traffic congestion."
Eleven local authorities around Heathrow have also been opposed to the scheme getting the go ahead.
"Now T5 has got the go-ahead, we shall be looking very closely at the conditions attached," said Peter Brown, a spokesman for the authorities.
"We want the conditions enforced and we do not want a repeat of the Heathrow Terminal 4 situation when promises on the number of flights were broken within a matter of months."
A BAA spokesman at Heathrow said it expected conditions to be set.
"It's too simple to say promises were broken as far as Terminal 4 was concerned.
"Recommendations were made, but circumstances changed."
Those in favour say Heathrow needs to expand to meet passenger and airline demand and to help London compete as a business centre with leading European financial centres.
Ken Howard, of campaign group Slough for Terminal 5, said it will improve employment prospects.
"It will bring a lot of business into the local economy through support services such as cleaners and caterers and will safeguard existing jobs as productivity increases," he told BBC News Online.
Opponents dispute BAA claims the new terminal will not increase road and aircraft traffic by much.
BAA says T5, which will cater for about 30 million travellers a year, will help the airport handle about 80-85 million passengers a year.
Anti-T5 groups fear this annual figure is more likely to be 90-100 million.
The government decision follows the end of the inquiry into T5, held from 1995 to 1999 and costing an estimated £80m.
Inquiry inspector Roy Vandermeer QC's report will be published when Mr Byers makes his decision.
The new terminal will have links to the Tube's Piccadilly line and to the mainline Heathrow Express.
from bbc online
Hooray for heathrow, its about time.
It is amazing what can be accomplised when nobody takes the credit