BAA Scraps Third Runway Plans for Heathrow

In what is happy news for environmental activists but a devastating blow to to England's airline industry, airport operator BAA has announced that it is dropping plans to build new runways at both Heathrow and Stansted airports.

According to the Guardian, today's announcement brings eight years of acrimonious conflict to a close. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats came out against the plans, and with Labour looking set to leave office, BAA said late last year it was shelving its programme at Heathrow until after the election.

The new government's formal coalition agreement last week promised to cancel Heathrow's third runway and rule out a new runway at Stansted, as well as at London's third main airport, Gatwick.

Following this announcement, BAA today said it would stop all work on a planning application for the third Heathrow runway. In a separate statement, it said it was also withdrawing its plans for a second Stansted runway. Schemes to buy houses in both affected areas would also end, it added, although some purchases already underway would continue.

Colin Matthews, BAA's chief executive officer, said: "The policy intentions of the new government are clear and it is no longer appropriate for us to purchase properties. Equally important is our intention to stand behind our commitment made to provide time for those local residents who wish to sell their properties to us, to do so...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."

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