Third run­way de­ci­sion is put on hold again

‘Re­al­is­tic’ date likely to be in Oc­to­ber

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - by Alexan­der Ballinger alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­

A FI­NAL de­ci­sion on whether to ex­pand Heathrow Air­port by build­ing a third run­way has been de­layed again, a trans­port min­is­ter an­nounced on Thurs­day morn­ing (June 30).

An an­nounce­ment on ex­pand­ing an air­port in the south-east was ex­pected to be made this sum­mer, but af­ter Bri­tain voted to leave the Euro­pean Union and with an im­pend­ing change of Prime Min­is­ter, the de­ci­sion has been pushed back again.

But a spokesper­son for Heathrow has sug­gested ex­pand­ing the west London air­port should be a ‘key build­ing block’ of the govern­ment’s Brexit plan.

Speak­ing in Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day morn­ing, the trans­port sec­re­tary Pa­trick McLough­lin said: “I had hoped we would be able to an­nounce the de­ci­sion this sum­mer.

“Clearly any an­nounce­ment on the air­port ca­pac­ity would have to be made when the house is in ses­sion.

“Be­ing re­al­is­tic, given re­cent events, I can’t now fore­see any an­nounce­ment un­til Oc­to­ber.”

A year ago, on July 1 2015, the Air­ports Com­mis­sion backed ex­pan­sion of Heathrow with a third run­way.

But in the wake of the Brexit vote on Thurs­day June 23, some have ar­gued the project was ‘much less likely’.

A spokesper­son for Heathrow Air­port has re­jected this claim though, say­ing a third run­way should be part of the plan for bol­ster­ing Bri­tain’s econ­omy out­side of the EU.

The spokesper­son said: “If Bri­tain wants to be con­fi­dent, out­ward­look­ing and at the cen­tre of the world’s econ­omy then ex­pand­ing Heathrow must be a key build­ing block in the govern­ment’s Brexit plan.

“It will al­low Bri­tish ex­porters to trade with all the grow­ing mar­kets of the world, strength­en­ing Bri­tain’s po­si­tion as one of the great trad­ing na­tions.

“And at a time of un­cer­tainty, a £16 bil­lion pri­vately funded in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment will cre­ate jobs and growth across the UK.

“The govern­ment can send the strong­est pos­si­ble sig­nal that Bri­tain is open for busi­ness and con­fi­dent in its fu­ture by ex­pand­ing Heathrow.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Davies Com­mis­sion, which was tasked with in­ves­ti­gat­ing the best op­tion for air­port ex­pan­sion, a third run­way would cre­ate 40,000 jobs across five London bor­oughs, and a fur­ther 140,000 else­where in the UK.

This week, Labour peer Lord David Blun­kett was ap­pointed chair­man of the Heathrow Skills Task­force, which aims to en­sure there are enough skilled work­ers to hold those po­si­tions.

The Heathrow As­so­ci­a­tion for the Con­trol of Air­craft Noise (HACAN) has cam­paigned ve­he­mently against the third run­way.

Chair­man of the cam­paign group, John Ste­wart, said: “This was in­evitable.

“Given the de­ci­sions within the cab­i­net, David Cameron would not have been able to sad­dle a new prime min­is­ter with a new run­way.

“It is likely now that the run­way ques­tion will be­come an is­sue in the race to be­come prime min­is­ter.

“There will be pres­sure on each can­di­date to spell out where they stand.”

The for­mer cur­rent book­ies’ favourite to be prime min­is­ter, Uxbridge MP Boris John­son, has pub­licly op­posed Heathrow ex­pan­sion, in­stead tout­ing an air­port in the Thames Es­tu­ary – dubbed ‘Boris Is­land.’

But this pro­posal was shot down by the Davies Com­mis­sion in 2014.

John­son an­nounced he would not run for prime min­is­ter on Thurs­day June 30.

Cur­rent con­tenders who have an­nounced they will stand to be the next prime min­is­ter are the home sec­re­tary Theresa May, jus­tice sec­re­tary Michael Gove, for­mer de­fence sec­re­tary Liam Fox, ju­nior en­ergy min­is­ter An­drea Lead­som and work and pen­sions min­is­ter Stephen Crabb.

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