The UK government is postponing its decision on whether to build a third runway at Heathrow until January 2009 to allow further consideration of the evidence.
A decision was expected before Christmas on the proposal that would boost Heathrow’s capacity from 480,000 flights per year to over 700,000 by 2020.However, transport secretary Geoff Hoon has said since being appointed to his new role he had begun considering evidence - and wanted to give proper weight to it before making a final announcement.
“I know that there are strong views across a range of interests,” he said. “I will ensure that I give proper consideration to the evidence before me and will therefore take more time before making an announcement to the House, in January 2009.”
Whilst the scheme is receiving the support of airlines and big businesses, the Conservatives, residents, local councils and conservationists are vehemently opposing the additional runway.
In its 2003 aviation white paper, the government has expressed support for a third runway.
In a written statement to parliament, transport secretary Geoff Hoon said: “The 2003 white paper made clear that given the economic benefits to the UK, the government supports the further development of Heathrow by adding a third runway and exploring the scope for making greater use of the existing runways, subject to meeting strict local conditions on air quality, noise and improving public transport access.”