Plans for new runways at Heathrow and Stansted are withdrawn

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The airport operator BAA bowed to the inevitable yesterday and formally announced it was abandoning plans for new runways at Heathrow and Stansted.

The Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition, in its Programme for Government document issued last week, had declared that the expansion would not go ahead in either case, and yesterday BAA withdrew its planning application for a second runway at Stansted, which had already been submitted, and said it would stop work on the application for a third runway at Heathrow, which was in the development stage.

The announcement sets the seal on a notable shift in UK aviation policy away from continued expansion – a policy led by considerations of the effect of rising aircraft CO2 emissions on climate change.

However, BAA said it would honour a pledge to buy up some homes on sites where the runways were set to be built, although it would stop the purchase schemes after a period of notice.

"We recognise the importance of Government policy in a matter as significant and controversial as runway capacity," said Colin Matthews, BAA's chief executive.

But he added: "Heathrow plays an important role for the UK and supports thousands of jobs. We continue to believe that new capacity would strengthen the UK's trading links with the global markets on which our economy and our competitiveness depend."