HAMPSHIRE businesses and thousands of residents have given their support to plans to expand Southampton Airport's runway.

The proposals to extend the runway by 164m have divided public opinion.

As reported, some objected to the scheme as they raised concerns over its impact on climate change, pollution and noise.

But others supported the proposals saying it would help the local economy, create jobs and attract investment.

At the end of last month Paul Holmes, the MP for Eastleigh, launched a petition in support of the plans.

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He said it has now been signed by 3,000 people and added: "In just over a week, 3,000 people have signed my petition calling on councillors to approve the runway extension at Southampton Airport. This plan is backed by the public and the council’s own planning officers. We need councillors to do the right thing and support Southampton Airport.”

As reported, during the meeting at the end of March other businesses and organisations including the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and Solent LEP, supported the plans.

It comes as airport bosses said the runway expansion would result in £15m worth of investment and more than 1,000 jobs.

Planning officers at Eastleigh Borough Council recommended the plans to be approved.

They said "on balance, the development would reduce the impact of noise to an acceptable level" and said that this would have to be considered in the planning balance.

Officers also made clear that refusing the plans would not mean that the airport would have to close, but it would have to look at alternative arrangements for funding to remain a viable business.

Talking ahead of this week's meeting Steve Szalay, operations director at Southampton Airport, said: "Officers have recommended our runway extension plans for approval. This, combined with the overwhelming support from the local community and businesses during the public consultations, should help us win the day on Thursday. It’s amazing that over 4,500 residents wrote into Eastleigh council to support our application. And to those who do not support us, rest assured we have taken the time to listen to those views and adapted our plans to reflect this feedback, specifically around noise. "

He pledged to address the climate emergency and added: "The extension is not simply the only way for us to maintain our viability as a business and a regional airport – we believe that it is the right decision for the long-term economic and social wellbeing of our region, given the significant benefits it will deliver, especially regarding 2,500 jobs and supporting our regional recovery.”