Final approval of a runway extension has safeguarded the future of Southampton airport.

A lengthy local council debate over two days led to the green light being given.

The extended runway will enable the south coast airport to handle larger aircraft serving a wider range of destinations.

The plans were granted despite opposition from campaigners, including broadcaster and environmentalist Chris Packham.

However, Eastleigh Borough Council voted to support the plan after hearing it would create more than 1,000 jobs, boost the local economy and trigger £15 million in investment.

The collapse of Flybe – which provided 89% of passengers – and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic had put the future of the airport in doubt.

Extending the runway by 164 metres will make the airport economically viable for a wider range of airlines, according to the airport.

Airport operations director Steve Szalay said: “This is the news we have been hoping for and working so hard to achieve.

“By listening to the overwhelming public and business support, as well as the planning officer’s recommendation to approve, the councillors have safeguarded the future of the airport.

“The decision also ensures we are well placed to provide employment and support the region as we seek to recover post pandemic.”

He added: “We are excited about our future. This positive decision allows us to further develop our plans, play a full part in the Solent Freeport and deliver on our commitments set out within the planning application, which will further enrich our neighbouring communities.

“We appreciate that some of our neighbours have concerns regarding noise and the environment. Please be assured that we want to work with residents to mitigate these issues going forward.”