Decision on Heathrow deferred until 2015

The government has confirmed it will defer a decision on Heathrow’s third runway for the next government to implement.

New transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin today announced that former CBI chief Sir Howard Davies will chair an independent commission tasked with identifying and recommending to the government “options for maintaining this country’s status as an international hub for aviation”.

The commission will identify the need for additional capacity and will produce an interim report in 2013, but will not deliver a final report until 2015.

Mr McLoughlin said: “This is a very difficult debate, but the reality is that since the 1960s Britain has failed to keep pace with our international competitors in addressing long-term aviation capacity and connectivity needs.

“The consequences are clear. Our largest airport and our only hub airport – Heathrow – is already operating at capacity.

“Gatwick, the world’s busiest single runway airport, will be full early in the next decade, while spare capacity at Stansted airport is forecast to run out in the early 2030s.”

However, he added: “A decision on whether to support any of the recommendations contained in the final report will be taken by the next government.”

The commission’s interim report will set out

  • Its assessment of the evidence on the nature, scale and timing of the steps needed to maintain the UK’s global hub status; and
  • Its recommendation(s) for immediate actions to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the next five years – consistent with credible long-term options.

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