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The cabinet has finally put an end to the drawn out process of approving a new £14bn runway plan for Heathrow.

The decision – which has taken 20 years to make – has certainly been drawn out and long awaited by the business and events lobby.

Passengers should not get their hopes up for a quick move to completion, as the date for opening is tentatively set for 2026.

Of course, the decision has come after a process of consulting and placating various interest groups and transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced £2.6bn in compensation for residents and noise abatement measures.

Grayling also said air quality commitments would have to be met for the project to proceed.

“The time for action is now,” Grayling told MPs, who will be asked to vote on the expansion plan by 11 July.

He insisted the decision was being taken in the national interest.

The runway is to be funded entirely privately although taxpayers will probably end up footing the bill for billions in road improvements.

Heathrow airport is virtually full and a new runway is expected to increase capacity from 85.5m to 130m passengers.

The expansion is estimated to create about 60,000 new jobs and generate about £70bn in total economic benefits by the 2050s.

Heathrow lags behind its major competitors in runway space. Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt have four runways and Amsterdam’s Schiphol has six. There are several cities Stateside and dozens more worldwide with more than four runways also.

Words: Paul Colston