UK government urged to act over airport capacity

UK government urged to act over airport capacity

The opportunity to end decades of political dithering on airport expansion has been squandered, the UK transport committee has argued in a report on airport expansion in the south-east of England.

In the report, the committee urges the secretary of state to set out a clear timetable for expansion, making clear the measures which have been accepted or rejected and the work which needs to be completed.

The report concludes that arguments for and against expansion have changed little in a quarter of a century.

The committee continues to back Heathrow, with the package of accompanying measures recommended by the Airports Commission.

However, the Conservative government has refused to take a decision on the issue until after the London mayoral election, further delaying the process.

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Chair of the transport committee, Louise Ellman, said: “The government must make up its mind.

“The decision on location is not the end of the process, it is the start of one.

“Real progress cannot begin until the location is declared.

“Work on environmental issues can run in parallel with other pre-construction work.

Across the world, cities are collectively planning to build more than 50 new runways with capacity to serve one billion additional passenger journeys by 2036.

The growth of large hubs in the Middle and Far East and North America threatens the UK’s position as a hub of international aviation, argued the report.

The UK’s connectivity with the world’s emerging markets is also a major concern.

Commenting on the report on, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “The real, independent evidence continues to point towards Heathrow. 

“The transport committee and the prime minister’s Airports Commission have confirmed that an expanded Heathrow will be an economic powerhouse driving jobs creation across the UK and fuelling a boom in British exports.

“Families and businesses across the nation are counting on the prime minister to secure Britain’s long term future. 

“Only an expanded Heathrow delivers and now is the time to make it happen.”

The report documents the progress of the debate on airport expansion from the 1990s to the December 2015 statement in the House of Commons.

At the time the secretary of state, Patrick McLoughlin, said the case for expansion was ‘clear’ but further work was needed before a decision could be taken on location.

The government indicated that the work should ‘conclude over the summer’ so that the timetable for delivering additional capacity by 2030 could be met.

A Gatwick spokesperson added: ““The opportunity to end decades of delay and false starts can only be achieved by giving the green light for Gatwick expansion.

“Gatwick is the only scheme which can actually deliver the economic benefits airport expansion would bring without the dramatic and unacceptable impacts on noise and air quality.”