UK MPs have backed controversial plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
Conservative MPs were ordered to vote in favour of the project but while Labour’s leadership was opposed to the expansion, its MPs were given free rein on the vote.
Around eight Tory MPs however rebelled against the whip, including former ministers Justine Greening and Greg Hands while 119 Labour MPs voted in support of the government.
It was won by 415 to 119 votes despite a group of protesters staging a lie-in demonstration in Parliament, putting the central lobby on lockdown last evening.
It was said to be in reference to Boris Johnson’s infamous pledge to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop the expansion of the airport. The foreign secretary, however, missed the vote because he was in Afghanistan for which he faced calls to resign.
Environmentalists criticised the move, with Friends of the Earth stating: “MPs who backed this new runway will be harshly judged by history. Climate change is already hitting the world’s most vulnerable people and expanding Heathrow will only make things worse.
“With no government plan to mitigate Heathrow’s carbon emissions or to address its already illegal levels of local air pollution, it’s astounding that the runway has been voted for by MPs. The only credible, responsible vote was to reject the third runway.”
Greenpeace added it will join a cross-party group of London councils and Mayor Sadiq Khan in a legal challenge against the government’s decision.
However, business group CBI welcomed the news as it believes a third runway at Heathrow is a “vote for growth, jobs and prosperity across the UK for generations to come”.
Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn said: “Fifty years in the making, this is a truly historic decision that will open the doors to a new era in the UK’s global trading relationships.
“The race for global competitiveness is well underway and the UK must now be quick off the mark – work on the new runway should start as soon as possible. The prize is tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of growth for the British economy.”