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Government must ‘make up its mind’ on airport expansion says Committee

4 May 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, International Airport Review

In a report published today, the Transport Committee has urged the UK Government to set out a clear timetable on airport expansion.

airport expansion

A new report by the Transport Committee has been published regarding airport expansion in the South East. The Committee believes the opportunity to end decades of political dithering on airport expansion has been squandered, and a clear timetable for expansion should be set out by Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin MP, making clear the measures which have been accepted or rejected and the work which needs to be completed.

Secretary of State must set out a timetable for airport expansion making clear the measures which have been accepted or rejected

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.

Committee continues to back Heathrow

Chair of the Transport Committee, Louise Ellman MP, 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.

“The Government must make up its mind”

“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 our position as a hub of international aviation. The UK’s connectivity with the world’s emerging markets is a major concern.

“The months ticking by constitute time wasted for the UK’s economic prosperity”

“The months ticking by constitute time wasted for the UK’s economic prosperity. UK PLC needs to know that a decision will be taken. Doing nothing means the UK continues to lose out.”

In a speech given in December 2015, Secretary of State, Patrick McLoughlin MP, said “The case for aviation expansion is clear – but it’s vitally important we get the decision right so that it will benefit generations to come. We will undertake more work on environmental impacts, including air quality, noise and carbon.” The government has indicated that this work will be concluded over summer 2016 so that the timetable for delivering additional capacity by 2030 can be met.

The Transport Committee’s Airport Expansion in the South East third report 2015-16 can be downloaded here.

Reacting to the Committee’s latest report, a Heathrow Airport 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 Transport Committee and the Prime Minister’s Airports Commission have confirmed that an expanded Heathrow will be an economic powerhouse”

A Gatwick Airport spokesperson also commented: “The Transport Committee’s astonishing statement that the arguments ‘for and against airport expansion have changed little in a quarter of a century’ ignores the significant change within the aviation industry following the break-up of the BAA monopoly in 2009 and the worsening of air quality in the UK which has repeatedly halted Heathrow’s plans in the past.

“The Transport Committee’s astonishing statement that the arguments ‘for and against airport expansion have changed little in a quarter of a century’ ignores the significant change within the aviation industry”

“In one key respect, however, the Committee is right to say that nothing has changed – Heathrow is still undeliverable. Fortunately, there is now a credible alternative at Gatwick that can mean Britain finally gets on with it.

“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.”

Do you have a preferred choice out of Heathrow or Gatwick? Take part in our Twitter poll today.

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