A Midland council has performed a seven-day U-turn to give conditional approval for a permanent two million passengers-a-year airport near Coventry.
Warwick District Council will now tell a public inquiry in January it will agree to a residents' compensation package offered by Coventry Airport if it beefs up its public transport proposals.
At a planning meeting last night councillors reversed their decision last week to reject the package, a decision which left the council's head of planning, John Archer, admitting he was unable to present a case to the inquiry.
A proposal last night by Conservative councillors to maintain opposition on the basis of noise nuisance to residents was defeated by a Lib Dem-Labour pact. A counter-proposal to accept the mitigation package but object to public transport improvements put forward by the airport was passed by five votes to three.
The committee's Labour chairman Councillor Bill Evans said last Wednesday's decision had been a "stab in the back" for the council's planning team who had negotiated a level of control on the airport's operation that it had never previously had.
Last night's meeting was the last opportunity for Warwick district councillors to influence the public inquiry.
A separate decision on the legality of the current temporary terminal at Baginton has been the subject of a recentlyconcluded public inquiry - with the Government's judgment still awaited.
To applause from the public gallery, Coun Michael Kinson, one of the three Conservatives to vote against last night's motion, said: "Mitigation in my book is appeasement. When it comes to an international airport, it is only going to scratch the surface. We should not go into the public inquiry giving the impression that we think this is a marvellous idea." The meeting ended with shouts of "disgrace", "fix" and "shame on you" from residents opposed to the airport.
Afterwards, Bill Savage, the airport's managing director, said he was looking forward to the public inquiry. "Warwick District Council has managed to negotiate a package of mitigation and compensation that is among the best at any airport in the UK.
"My bosses might not be happy with me that I offered so much but if this means the airport can move forward as a good neighbour then that is what I felt I should do."