Heathrow expansion 'will be a fight between economics and the planet'

Reaction to the news that the government has come down on the side of expanding Heathrow to increase airport capacity in the South East dominates today's newspaper round-up.

Now that the government has backed Heathrow expansion, "enacting it will be a fight between old-fashioned economics and the future of the planet", a leader column in the Guardian says. "Expanding air travel will make it harder than ever to cut carbon emissions to meet the targets set out in the newly ratified Paris agreement. Air pollution has an even more immediate effect on the health of the local population", the newspaper says.

Prime Minister Theresa May "is right in thinking Britain needs to invest in big infrastructure projects, but she is wrong in thinking a new runway at Heathrow is one of them", a leader in the Times (subscription required) says. "It is true that this government has made a decision on airport capacity where previous one balked, but it is a bad decision, for a runway to nowhere".

Theresa May "deserves credit" for making the decision, but "everything now depends on getting on with it", a Daily Telegraph leader says. "For too long this country has been mired in a state of near paralysis, talking endlessly of grands projets but rarely delivering on the rhetoric", it says.

The "Heathrow runway debate is a rebuttal to conspiracy theories that insist politicians are in hock to corporate interests", Guardian columnist Rafael Behr says. "[The decision] should stand as a rebuttal to the view of government as an elite conspiracy. Of course, it will be said that the business-lounge polluters got their way, but it is a weak plot that takes three generations to succeed and works its subterfuge by feeding submissions to endless rounds of public consultation."

In other news, "Sir James Dyson has had to apply for retrospective planning permission after building a marble-lined swimming pool beneath the floor of his grade I listed stately home", the Times (subscription required) reports. The newspaper says that last summer planners from South Gloucestershire Council investigated "after receiving a tip-off" and "the inventor has now been granted approval for the unauthorised work to a listed building, which was potentially punishable by two years in prison or an unlimited fine".

"About 500,000 solar panels were installed every day last year as a record-shattering surge in green electricity saw renewables overtake coal as the world’s largest source of installed power capacity", the Financial Times (subscription required) reports. The newspaper says that "two wind turbines went up every hour in countries such as China, according to International Energy Agency officials who have sharply upgraded their forecasts of how fast renewable energy sources will keep growing."

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