A Government decision on South East airport expansion has been delayed following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union and the announcement by David Cameron that he will step down as Prime Minister.
Media reports had suggested that the Department for Transport was prepared to give the go ahead to Heathrow after being satisfied by the airport’s proposed measures to address aircraft noise and air pollution. However, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP announced to Parliament today (30th June) that a decision on a new runway would be delayed until at least October, after the Conservative Party leadership election is decided. The announcement was made a day short of it being a year since the Airports Commission produced its final report.
Mr McLoughlin also announced that the Government would be publishing its assessment of the air pollution impacts of Heathrow expansion shortly.
The Conservative leadership election has thrown the likelihood of Heathrow expansion into doubt with leading anti-Heathrow campaigner, Boris Johnson, a possible candidate to be the next Prime Minister (though he has since pulled out). However, it is thought that Theresa May has a more nuanced position to Heathrow expansion despite her constituency being affected by aircraft noise.
Cait Hewitt, AEF Deputy Director, commented on the delay:
“It is clear that expansion of either Heathrow or Gatwick would be beset with environmental hurdles, so it comes as no surprise that the Government has felt the need to further delay a decision. Answers are needed in relation to noise, air pollution and climate change before a decision to expand either airport can be taken.”
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