The Airports Commission has backed a third Heathrow runway, claiming it will give the economy a £147bn (€147bn, $231bn) boost, add 70,000 jobs by 2050, and connect the airport with 40 more destinations across the world.

Sir Howard Davies, the author of the report, said that restrictions should be imposed to reduce the environmental damage and noise impact of the runway on local communities.

"The best answer is to expand Heathrow's capacity through a new north-west runway," Davies said, adding that recommendations for the location of the new runway were "clear and unanimous."

"Heathrow is best placed to provide the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long haul destinations to new markets. It provides the greatest benefits for business passengers and the broader economy. Adding capacity at Heathrow also provides an opportunity to change the airport's relationship with its local communities," said Davies.

Howard Davies
Sir Howard Davies said that recommendations for the location of the new runway were "clear and unanimous" Reuters

"To make expansion possible the Commission recommends a comprehensive package of measures including a ban on night flights and a new noise levy to fund a far stronger and more generous set of compensation and mitigation schemes."

The non-binding report recommends banning night flights, and says that an aviation noise levy would fund extra insulation for local homes and schools.

The government is urged to make a legal commitment on reducing air pollution, and issue a pledge not to build a fourth runway.

Heathrow welcomed the commission's recommendation, and said it would work to "deliver expansion for all of Britain."

The new runway would cost £18 billion, and would result in the destruction of 783 homes in nearby villages.

Downing Street said it would take time to "properly read and properly digest the report" before arriving at a judgement.

A formal government response is not expected before the Autumn.

Davies said a Gatwick expansion would not be able to deliver the same levels of economic growth, and would provide fewer connections to foreign destinations.

Gatwick's chief executive Stewart Wingate emphasised that the report still maintains that Gatwick expansion is a viable option, and said the airport was "still very much in the race".

Residents near Heathrow and environmental groups have already launched legal action against the way the commission compiled the report and said they would continue to oppose the plans. They are backed by politicians including London mayor Boris Johnson.