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Hundreds call for expansion at Heathrow Airport rally

People at Heathrow rally Image copyright Max Wilson
Image caption Back Heathrow claims more locals back the expansion of Heathrow than oppose it

Hundreds of people living near Heathrow held a rally to call for the government to back the building of a new runway at the airport.

Back Heathrow lobby group said expansion would boost jobs at a time of "economic difficulties".

The Airports Commission recommended to the government last July there should be a third runway at Heathrow rather than a second at Gatwick.

Opponents claim it would be cheaper and less disruptive to enlarge Gatwick.

The rally at Kempton Park racecourse took place exactly a year after the Airports Commission's report.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Planes fly close to some homes when landing at Heathrow Airport
Image caption Pro-Heathrow backers claim a new runway will create "tens of thousands" of jobs

Back Heathrow director Rob Gray said: "Local people want to see the tens of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships that will come with expansion."

He said "more residents living near Heathrow support rather than oppose expansion" and it would be "madness" not to enlarge the airport "given the current political uncertainty and economic difficulties".

Earl Herbert, who attended the rally and lives close to the airport, said a new runway would give "young people... the opportunity to get work".

But not all local residents support the view of Back Heathrow, which was set up with funding by Heathrow Airport.

Pat Miles, who lives nearby, told the BBC that London Gatwick has "so much more land around it", while Heathrow is "a blight for the people who live there."

Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate has also claimed the environmental impact of Gatwick was "a tiny fraction" of that caused by Heathrow.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced this week a final decision on airport expansion would be delayed until "at least October".

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