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Heathrow Airport has won the support of a formal report into where would be best to build a new runway, beating competition from bosses at Gatwick.
According to the report, the 260,000 extra flights a year Heathrow could accommodate would pump extra £147 billion into the UK economy, creating 77,000 new jobs by 2030 and connecting Britain to 40 new destinations and potential business markets in Asia, Africa and Latin Amercia.
The Prime Minister has said he will read the Airports Commission report and decide by the end of the year whether the government would back the report - though some of his own MPs have already voiced their opposition.
ITV News' business editor Joel Hills reports:
Conservative heavyweights have already spoken out about the recommendations to expand Heathrow airport.
Cabinet minister Justine Greening, whose south west London constituency could be affected by any increase in flights, has claimed that expansion is "undeliverable both democratically, politically and legally".
Zac Goldsmith, a frontrunner in the race to be the Tory candidate to replace Boris Johnson as mayor next year, has threatened to resign and trigger a by-election if the Government gives the green light to a third runway.
The Transport Secretary has told MPs to expect a decision on whether to go ahead with the expansion of Heathrow by September, several months earlier than Prime Minister David Cameron initially said.
ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship has tweeted:
Residents around Heathrow are furious over today's announcement that the airport is the preferred option for a new runway. Interviewees: Helen Hansen-Hjul and Murray Barter.
Boris Johnson has told ITV News that the Airport Commission's proposals for a third runway at Heathrow will lead to a massive increase in noise and air pollution over London and suggested little has changed since the West London airport's first plans for redevelopment three years ago.
The Mayor of London seemed wary that the planned expansion would lead to the erosion of a night flight ban and eventually a fourth runway, which Mr Johnson said would be a "real disaster".
Boris Johnson has said that he is "disappointed" with the Airport Commission's recommendations and predicted that a third runway at Heathrow would never be built.
In a tweet the Mayor of London said: "Davies commission pro Heathrow is disappointing - compounds not solves issue - destined for vertical filing as 3rd r/way will never be built."
The recommendation for a new runway at Heathrow Airport sparked fresh debate on the environmental impact of the plan and stirred up further political debate.
Local campaigners and environmental groups vowed to continue their protests against the expansion, as business leaders broadly welcomed the plans.
Green groups attacked the announcement because of the likely impact on the environment.
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said:
Business and trade unions appear to have broadly welcomed the prospect of a third runway at Heathrow Airport in West London.
Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said:
Latest ITV News reports
After years of political manoeuvring over the future expansion of Heathrow Airport, there has been an important development this lunchtime.
Here are the key statistics in the Airport Commission's proposal for a new runway at Heathrow.