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Heathrow chief ready for runway work despite government uncertainty

Heathrow will tender for work on a new runway as early as December this year, despite the timing of a government decision on airport expansion still being unclear.

Speaking yesterday, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said he believed the airport would start engaging with contractors within the next couple of months and begin tendering for the first wave of work by the end of the year.

Mr Holland-Kaye said: “From the supply chain point of view, we will have a conference in September to outline our plans to the industry and we will be going out to tender probably December or January to get the supply chain ready.”

He added: “We will need a lot of help with this; this is a massive infrastructure project.”

It is estimated that the total cost of building a new runway at Heathrow will be in excess of 18.6bn, with a major pipeline of work expected for contractors.

The comments from the Heathrow chief come after the Airports Commission put forward a north-west runway at Heathrow Airport as the best option for airport expansion in the South-east earlier this month.

Yet despite the commission’s recommendation, the final ruling on whether a new runway at Heathrow will go ahead is expected to be made by prime minister David Cameron at the end of the year.

Mr Holland-Kaye sent a strong message to the prime minister urging him to “act urgently, before it was too late”.

He said: “We need an early decision from the government and an early vote in parliament to cement that decision.”

Mr Holland-Kaye said he believed that, following the decision by the commission, the plan for a new north-west runway at Heathrow would now have enough support to be voted through parliament.

He said: “The Airports Commission was set up with cross-party support and its conclusions received cross-party support across Conservative backbenchers, Northern Irish parties, Welsh and Scottish parties and the Labour Party.

“I am confident that expansion at Heathrow would command a substantial majority in parliament.”

Responding to Mr Holland-Kaye’s comments yesterday, Mark Bostock, the director of rival runway expansion proposal Heathrow Hub, told Construction News: “One has to remember that Howard Davies made only a recommendation and it is still for government to consider their report and respond accordingly.

“The government is fairly adamant that it will be making a final decision by the end of the year.”

“Until then, our proposal still remains very much in the running.”

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