The transport secretary has confirmed a government decision on the airport expansion has been delayed until “October at least”, as construction leaders wrote to him urging support for Heathrow.
Answering questions in the House of Commons this morning, Patrick McLoughlin said he had “hoped we would be able to announce a decision this summer” but that it would now be delayed.
He said the decision had to be made when the House of Commons was in session and that he “cannot see an announcement until at least October”.
In response to a later statement by an MP criticising the delay, Mr McLoughlin referred to making the decision “this year” and criticised the Labour Party’s lack of a decision when it was in power before 2010.
In a letter to the transport secretary today, more than 170 business leaders, including many from construction and property, have backed Heathrow expansion as crucial to Britain remaining “an outward-looking trading nation”.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate told Construction News this week that its target of starting construction in 2019 would be under threat from further delays.
In its results for the year to 31 March 2016 announced today, Gatwick said passenger numbers were up 6 per cent and air traffic movements up 4 per cent on 2015.
Mr Wingate said: “Today’s results offer a glimpse of the benefits a two-runway Gatwick would deliver for the UK – guaranteed growth with limited environmental impacts and at a cost the country can afford. The time is fast approaching to give expansion at Gatwick the green light so Britain can get the benefits.”
Labour MP Lilian Greenwood described the further delay as exacerbating, saying the uncertainty over major infrastructure projects like HS2 and Heathrow was leaving “hundreds of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships in the balance” and that the delay would add to the “economic shock” from the EU referendum.
Gove enters the fray
Mr McLoughlin hit back at Labour’s record and said the Conservative government was increasing investment in this parliament.
Frontrunner to be the next prime minister Theresa May is an opponent of further Heathrow expansion.
Boris Johnson, previously a frontrunner for the PM role today, confirmed he will not seek the leadership of the Conservative Party.
However, Michael Gove, who announced his candidacy to replace David Cameron today, has previously backed Heathrow expansion and in 2013 called the airport a “good corporate citizen”.
The Airports Commission released its final report into expansion a year ago tomorrow.
Heathrow letter signatories include:
- George Beveridge, deputy MD, Amec Foster Wheeler
- Jolyon Brewis, partner, Grimshaw Architects
- Cristiano Ceccato, associate director, Zaha Hadid Architects
- Vincent Clancy, CEO, Turner & Townsend
- Susan Crookes, UK AMA co-ordinator, Balfour Beatty Construction Services
- Nick Fletcher, managing director infrastructure, Morgan Sindall
- Bernardo Gogna, senior vice-president – director global aviation, Aecom
- Stephen Griggs, operations manager, Spie
- Keith Howells, chairman and chief executive, Mott MacDonald
- Richard Matthews, director, Arup
- Barry McNicholas, CEO, McNicholas
- Simon Priestley, director of energy, Mitie
- Alasdair Reisner, chief executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association
- Patrick Riordan, operations director, Danny Sullivan Group
- Mark Reynolds, CEO, Mace Group
- David Sleath, CEO, Segro
- Graeme White, fit-out divisional director, ISG
- Gary Wintersgill, managing director, Severfield