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Third runway trigger protests

January 12, 2009

Leading businesses and trade union members have entered the row over the proposed expansion of Heathrow to include a third runway.

In a show of solidarity, the two groups have expressed their support for the proposals by running adverts in the national press. These adverts state that the building of a third runway is vital to the surrounding community, providing jobs, economic growth, investment and long-term competitiveness of the UK's economy.

News of the support comes as details of protesters' plans to block Terminal 1 are set to cause disruption to hundreds of flights from the airport.

Among those expressing their support for the third runway is Baroness Jo Valentine, CEO of London First (Chair): "Business needs to fly and will do so long after the current economic turmoil. A third runway will be an asset to London and the UK economy if it comes with the right conditions - no new flights until delays have fallen, a tough independent environmental monitor and world-class customer service."

Colin Stanbridge, CEO of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "Business people are crying our for a third runway at Heathrow, with no fewer than 97% of London firms considering the airport to be important or very important to the economy.

"With increasing pressure on domestic and European markets, UK firms must have access to new and developing markets to export their goods and services. Whilst our European competitors are free to expand their routes and exploit new opportunities, the UK faces impossible constraints with its only hub airport operating at 99% capacity. We need a fully integrated transport system, connecting an expanded Heathrow to the capital through Crossrail and the regions through high-speed rail."

Among the trade unions offering their support for the expansion is the TUC. Frances O'Grady, deputy general secretary, said: "Aviation is key to the UK economy and the unions are committed to supporting the sustainable development of Heathrow - not only leading to the creation of many more quality jobs but also meeting local noise and air quality standards, and ensuring that CO2 emissions from aviation growth are consistent with the UK's new carbon budgets."

It is anticipated that Gordon Brown will give the green light for the expansion later this week, despite the efforts of the protesters and the opposition of some 50 Labour MPs.