Kelly signals Heathrow expansion

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The Independent Online

Ministers will signal the go-ahead today for a third runway at Heathrow, announcing a public consultation on the project in spite of a commitment by Gordon Brown to curb CO2 emissions to reduce climate change.

John Stewart, chairman of ClearSkies, which opposes the expansion of Heathrow, promised "the mother of all battles" over the planned expansion, saying: "It will be the Newbury bypass of the skies."

Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, will announce a three-month public consultation exercise, but will make it clear that the Government believes the economic advantages outweigh the environmental costs.

The development comes just 48 hours after the Prime Minister said he would ask an independent committee to consider putting aviation in Britain's targets for reducing CO2 emissions.

It is estimated that the expansion would allow Heathrow to increase the number of flights by 500 a day. The plans could be fast-tracked under government proposals to streamline the planning system for major projects.