The goverment is aiming to give the final go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow within the next 10 months, transport secretary Chris Grayling has said.
“Subject to the necessary consultation work and securing the backing of parliament, we are aiming to give it the formal go-ahead in the first half of next year,” Mr Grayling told the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester yesterday.
His comments come two weeks after National Infrastructure Commission chairman and former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis argued that the chance of final approval being given by parliament in 2018 was no more than 50 per cent.
A number of legislative hurdles have to be cleared before the government can give Heathrow expansion the formal green light.
MPs must vote on a final National Policy Statement (NPS) to give final approval to the runway plan.
However, the public consultation on the runway, which the NPS should take account of, has still not been concluded.
Mr Grayling revealed earlier this month the consultation, which received 70,000 responses, would be extended to take account of revised aviation demand forecasts and the government’s final air quality plan.
These documents were due to be published earlier this year but were delayed by June’s snap election.
However, Mr Grayling said he did not believe this would have an effect on the timing of a possible approval of the plans.
“This government remains committed to realising the benefits that airport expansion could bring, and I can confirm that we do not expect this additional period of consultation to impact on the timetable for parliamentary scrutiny of the NPS,” he said.