CONTROVERSIAL plans to expand the runway at Southampton Airport will come under scrutiny today as civic chiefs will be asked to make a final decision.

The proposals to expand the runway by 164m will be discussed in a virtual council meeting set to begin at 10am.

As reported, the plans have proved to be controversial.

Campaigners and some councils - including Southampton City Council - objected to the proposals on the grounds of noise and climate change.

But the local business community backed the runway expansion saying the move would have “deep implications” for the local economy.

Bosses at Southampton Airport said the future of the site will be hanging in the balance if the plans are refused.

Earlier this week members of Extinction Rebellion and Airport Expansion Opposition Southampton (AXO) said they will be calling on councillors to refuse the plans on the grounds of noise and climate change.

But in an open letter Anne-Marie Mountifield, chief executive at Solent LEP and Brian Johnson, Solent LEP chair, said: “A decision to refuse the application risks bringing the 110 years of aviation in Eastleigh to an end. It will be disastrous for the local economy at a time when the pandemic is having a devastating economic impact.” Solent LEP is among those in favour of the plans along with Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Eastleigh MP Paul Holmes and Cllr Keith Mans, the leader of Hampshire County Council. Meanwhile, other local councils including those in Southampton and Winchester as well as Cllr Christopher Hammond, the leader of Southampton City Council, objected to the proposals.

The plans are recommended for approval.

The final decision will be taken by the Eastleigh Local Area Committee at Eastleigh Borough Council.

Three possible scenarios

  1. Should the majority of councillors vote in favour of the recommendation - which is to approve the runway extension - then permission is granted.
  2. If the vote is evenly split, the chair of the committee has the right to cast the deciding vote.
  3. Should the majority of councillors vote against the recommendation, or the chair exercises the casting vote against, the recommendation is not passed. In this case the matter will be referred to full council. Eastleigh Borough Council said if a meeting of the full council is needed a provisional date of April 8, 2021 is pencilled.