British officials split on Heathrow plan

LONDON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A split, based on pollution concerns, has developed among British officials regarding plans for an expansion of Heathrow Airport.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has warned fellow cabinet members the expansion project should not go forward without dramatic cuts in noise and air pollution, The Sunday Times reported.


Benn told the newspaper Heathrow already has a problem with air quality, and said he doubted claims by expansion supporters that new technology would provide a solution to pollution problems.

Benn's comments indicate a growing split in the cabinet over the expansion project, the newspaper said.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon this month postponed a decision on the project until January, after some cabinet officers expressed their doubts privately, the report said.

The Heathrow expansion is expected to increase aircraft capacity at the airport by almost 50 percent. Critics say it would increase emissions of nitrogen dioxide, soot and dust -- as well as more noise for millions who live along flight paths.

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