In 2016 the new prime minister, Theresa May, backed the building of a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport, following the recommendations of the Airports Commission a year before. The decision was controversial and will face legal and political challenges before the first bulldozers can begin work. But May was swayed by the benefits a new runway would bring, allowing more goods and people easily in and out of London. The Airports Commission (2015) argued that the expansion would boost the UK economy by £147 billion and create 70,000 jobs by 2050 – a powerful incentive for any prime minister.But the new runway had encountered strenuous objections from environmental groups and local campaigners. Plans for expansion were originally scrapped by the coalition government in 2010 and they continued to create controversy for May. Her decision to back expansion generated such strong feelings that it even led to the resignation of one of her own backbenchers, Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park in west London and a former editor of the Ecologist magazine.
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