June 29, 2015 / 1:39 PM / 4 years ago

Recommendation on UK airport expansion to come Wednesday

An advertisement poster promoting Heathrow airport is seen on the boundary of the airport, west London, March 5, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports will find out on Wednesday which has won the backing of a three-year independent inquiry into the decades-long battle to expand London’s airport capacity.

The Airports Commission, chaired by Howard Davies, said on Monday it will publish its final report on July 1 after a three-year investigation.

The government is then expected to respond to the Commission’s recommendation later this year.

Business leaders and politicians can only agree on the need for a new UK runway — where it should be has been hotly contested for over 25 years.

Building a new runway near to densely-populated London is a politically-toxic issue, with many local residents opposed to the increased noise and air pollution more planes would bring.

The Commission shortlisted three expansion options for consideration in its final report: two at Britain’s busiest airport Heathrow, which is operating at 98 percent capacity, and one at No. 2 airport Gatwick.

Heathrow has two runways and Gatwick just one compared to Charles de Gaulle in Paris which has four and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport which has six.

Heathrow is co-owned by Spanish infrastructure firm Ferrovial (FER.MC) its largest shareholder with a 25 percent share. Partners include Qatar Holding, China Investment Corp and the Government of Singapore Investment Corp.

Gatwick is run by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), which owns a 42 percent controlling stake in the airport. Other shareholders are the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, National Pension Service of Korea, California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the Future Fund of Australia.

Reporting by Sarah Young

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