Page last updated at 08:19 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Planners support runway expansion

Birmingham International Airport
Plans for a second runway at the airport were scrapped last year

Plans to expand the runway at Birmingham International Airport have been approved by councillors.

Solihull Council's planning committee unanimously backed the 130m project to extend the runway by 400m (1,329ft).

But the final decision has been deferred until January so that councillors can review environmental measures to protect people in the area.

The project would allow larger aircraft and carriers of non-stop flights to the west coast of the US and the Far East.

The manufacturers' group, the Engineering Employers' Federation (EEF), welcomed the councillors' decision but the Green Party called it a "disastrous decision".

'No brainer'

Under the project, the runway will be extended 405m towards Bickenhill and Hampton-in-Arden.

Plans for a second runway for the airport were scrapped in September 2007.

Peter O'Grady, West Midlands spokesman for the EEF, said the expansion was "a much needed boost for the region's economy".

The nine councillors have bowed to commercial pressure
Felicity Norman, Green Party

"Despite genuine concerns from local residents it was a no brainer for Solihull Council," he said.

Mr O'Grady said people would no longer have to travel to London to visit places such as China and Japan.

"This will also mean easier access for business to the Asia-Pacific region and they will now have the chance to compete in those markets on an equal footing with companies in the South East and North West," he added.

Felicity Norman, Green Party Euro-MP candidate, said: "The nine councillors have bowed to commercial pressure, not looking after the interests of the people they are supposed to represent.

"Extending the runway is going to have a catastrophic and inexcusable impact on climate change, which in itself will have a negative impact on the world economy in the long term."

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