Transport secretary says Brexit has put back airport expansion decision
A decision on airport expansion in the South-east will be put back until “at least October”, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told MPs.
McLoughlin said he had hoped a decision would be announced this summer - chiming with recent reports that the government had been preparing to green light Heathrow expansion promptly if Remain had won out in last week’s referendum.
But in light of the Brexit result, McLoughlin said: “Being realistic, I cannot foresee an announcement until at least October. [However], the government is fully committed to delivering this important infrastructure project.”
Business leaders have called for a quick decision, after a commission led by Sir Howard Davies last year recommended Heathrow’s third runway as the best option for expanding airport capacity.
Airport expansion could become a bone of contention in the imminent Tory leadership contest, which will install a new prime minister, with Boris Johnson in particular a fierce opponent of Heathrow expansion.
Commenting on the latest delay, Nick Baveystock, chief executive of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said: “This is disappointing news - Government commissioned a comprehensive review to establish the best expansion option for the UK, and this resulted in a clear recommendation.
“We recognise the difficult political situation but now more than ever we need a bold, strategic decision on the country’s future hub capacity and leaders who can step up to the mark.