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Government gets cold feet on Heathrow decision

[ December 10, 2015   //   ]

Industry has reacted with dismay to the news that, as widely expected, a decision on whether to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport has been delayed again – until at least next summer. A decision had previously been expected by the end of this year, but the government said that more worked needed to be done on the possible environmental effects.
In July, the Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies came out in favour of a third runway for Heathrow but the government’s latest move means that other options, including a second runway for Gatwick, are still on the table.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) warned that further delay in a decision on a third runway at Heathrow will damage the UK’s international reputation and discourage overseas investment.
FTA’s director of global and European policy, Chris Welsh, said: “Yet another delay in a decision on future investment in airport capacity is damaging the UK’s international competitiveness. Approximately 40% of Britain’s imports and exports are dependent on air freight. The UK’s ability to access existing and new markets is in danger of being seriously impaired by a failure to invest in Britain’s core infrastructure capacity.
CBI Director-General said Carolyn Fairbairn described the delay as “deeply disappointing. We urgently need to increase our runway capacity to spur trade growth, investment and job creation. Just eight new routes to emerging markets could boost our exports by up to £1 billion a year.
“But by 2025 – the earliest a new runway would be built – London’s airports could already be operating at full capacity and the longer we wait the further we fall behind the likes of Amsterdam and Paris. If we don’t have a new runway up and running by 2030 the cost to the UK will be as much as £5.3 billion a year in lost trade to the BRICs alone.
“It is of course essential that environmental conditions are met. But the Airports Commission spent three years analysing impartial evidence, at a cost of £20 million, and the National Infrastructure Commission was set up just two months ago to take an evidence-based approach to our needs. We cannot fall into the habit of simply commissioning new evidence, instead of the Government taking the tough decisions needed at the end of the process.”

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