Heathrow expansion decision set for six month delay
07 / 12 / 2015
A decision on where to develop new airport capacity in the UK looks set to be delayed again as concerns are raised about the environmental impact of building a third runway at Heathrow.
Reports in the UK media quote senior government sources as suggesting the decision on whether to build an extra runway at Gatwick or Heathrow could be delayed by as much as six months.
The government had promised it would make a decision before the end of the year, with Heathrow looking the most likely to win approval after the Airports Commission backed plans for a third runway at the west London hub.
However, last week the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said that the government should not give final approval to Heathrow expansion until the airport can demonstrate that it accepts and will comply with key environmental conditions.
Reports suggest that another review on the environmental impact of a third runway at Heathrow now needs to be carried out.
Gatwick has also been carrying out its own environmental monitoring of air quality and on October 30 it took nitrogen dioxide (NO2) readings in the Heathrow area and found they reached 102.51 micrograms (per cubic meter of air).
“The annual legal limit is 40 micrograms,” said Gatwick “Air quality remains an impediment to the expansion of Heathrow, as it was in 2003 and again in 2010.”
It said that the extra freight traffic that would head to Heathrow as a result of expansion would further increase pollution.
The decision on where to expand is also highly political. In the run up to the 2009 election, prime minister David Cameron promised “the third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts”.
Also London Mayor Boris Johnson and other high ranking Conservative members of parliament are against Heathrow expansion.
There are even suggestions that anti-Heathrow members could resign if the decision goes against them.
The decision on the new environmental review is set to be taken by the Economic and Domestic Cabinet sub-committee on Thursday, which the prime minister chairs.