The runway extension at Birmingham Airport has meet with fierce criticism from environmental campaigners, who have called it a “green light for more noise and pollution”.
At 2,600 metres, the current runway length restricts the range of destinations which can be served directly from the airport.
It needs to extend by 400m to reach more long haul destinations such as China, South Africa and the west coast of America.
The planning application for the extension was granted by Solihull Council in 2009 and Section 106 Planning Conditions were agreed in 2010.
The application also set out the associated infrastructure, including the realignment and tunnelling of a section of the A45 Coventry Road, a new air traffic control tower and a new exit taxiway.
Joe Peacock, of Birmingham Friends of the Earth, said: “We are disappointed that the insatiable demand of this over-subsidised industry to expand without taking responsibility for its external costs, such as climate change, the tourism deficit and increased noise and pollution takes precedence over other more beneficial local public transport schemes.
“The aviation industry needs reigning in and it has to start to pay its fair share for the damage it causes locally and globally.”
The airport said the 106 agreement ensures there are mitigation measures to protect the local and global environment.
An airport spokesperson said: “The runway extension will be funded by the airport company, not public money.
“The decision by the board will allow us to progress to the next stage of the development, including finalising the tender process.
“Not only would the extension deliver wealth into the region by opening new links to emerging global markets, it will reduce the need for unnecessary long-distance surface journeys to other UK airports by meeting local demand.”
Paul Kehoe, chief executive officer of Birmingham Airport said: “The runway extension is good news for both the airport and West Midlands region and it allows us to pursue the development further.
“We have already invested in growth and could double passenger numbers tomorrow, without further infrastructure.
“The runway extension will enhance the airport’s capability and open up the world to the people and economy of the Midlands – as well as helping to take pressure off the overheated South East.”
Birmingham Airport is a public/private partnership. Majority shareholders are the seven West Midlands councils at 49 per cent and Australia’s Victorian Funds Management Corp at 48.25 per cent.