A THIRD runway at Heathrow Airport is now all but certain after the Cabinet backed the London airport’s expansion plans.

The controversial scheme now goes to a vote in parliament. Despite a likely rebellion from Tory backbenchers, a split in the Labour party, and the support of SNP MPs means the government will have little difficulty getting it through the Commons.

Announcing the cabinet’s decision, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said it would secure “global connectivity” and create tens of thousands of jobs.

Despite fierce local resistance, it was, he added, “a decision taken in the national interest and based on detailed evidence”.

Grayling told MPs: “The time for action is now. Heathrow is already full and the evidence shows the remaining London airports won’t be far behind. Despite being the busiest two-runway airport in the world, Heathrow’s capacity constraints means that it is falling behind its global competitors, impacting the UK’s economy and global trading opportunities.

“Expansion at Heathrow will bring real benefits across the country including a boost of up to £74 billion to passengers and the wider economy. This is a project with benefits which reach far beyond London.”

The government announced a £2.6 billion package for local communities, including £700 million for noise insulation for homes and £40 million to insulate schools and community buildings.

John Stewart, chairman of anti-Heathrow expansion group Hacan, said this wouldn’t be enough: “This is a bad day for residents. Many communities will face a tsunami of noise if a third runway goes ahead.

“Many people who will be under new flights paths will find their lives changed forever.”

Campaigners made a last ditch attempt to convince Scots not to back the plans. Former Transport Minister Justine Greening, who has long opposed the plans, said Heathrow’s expansion would mean Scottish connections to the airport would become “unviable”.

“They won’t compete with yet another full plane flying to New York that can bring more money,” she said.

“So Scottish taxpayers should have to expect to pay a subsidy to Heathrow Airport ltd in the future if they want to maintain those links.”

Grayling denied this, saying 15% of new landing slots would be “facilitating” regional connectivity.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown welcomed the Cabinet’s decision. The Scottish Government signed a Memorandum Understanding with Heathrow that committed the airport to building a “logistics hub” somewhere in Scotland that will manufacture components for the third runway.

“We have always stated that we want the best deal for Scotland and building a third runway at Heathrow provides the most significant benefits to the country’s economy and connectivity,” he said.

“Heathrow’s plan offers significant job creation, major investment opportunities and, crucially, seeks to address how all of Scotland’s airports can benefit from the new runway capacity. The basing of a logistics hub in Scotland is also an important part of the Heathrow offer.”

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said Labour will consider the proposed Heathrow expansion against four tests: “Expansion should only happen if it can effectively deliver on the capacity demands, if noise and air quality issues are fully addressed, if the UK’s climate change obligations are met in their entirety, and that growth across the country is supported.”

The Commons vote on the Heathrow expansion must take place by July 11 and all eyes will be on Boris Johnson. He previously said he would lie down in front of Heathrow’s bulldozers. It’s understood he may now be allowed to “miss” the vote.

The debate over Heathrow’s expansion has been going on for 20 years, with the airport spending huge amounts of cash on a charm offensive, trying to woo politicians.

They’re sponsoring the parliamentarian’s reception at this week’s SNP conference.