UK Primer Minister David Cameron could be forced by the country’s biggest trade unions to announce a new runway at Heathrow Airport.
The expansion at Heathrow would help boost airport capacity in southeast England.
Approving the expansion would break a pledge Cameron made in 2009, refusing to add an extra runway to the UK’s busiest airport. At the time Cameron referred to it as “Labour’s third runway.”
However, in July the Airports Commission recommended expanding the airport, adding that a third runway would be in the best interest of the UK.
Cameron responded by saying that he would make a final decision by the end of the year. A government spokesperson confirmed that there would be a response to the recommendation made by the Airports Commission by the year end.
A report by The Financial Times cited an official close to the process saying that Cameron was “likely to back the third runway later this month but make approval contingent on further environmental studies.”
The official said: “That’s the political advice going to the PM. Only David Cameron knows what he will finally decide to do.”
Chair of the House of Commons Transport Committee, Louise Ellman, stated that if the decision is dragged on any longer there could be economic consequences, with the possibility of airlines moving to competing hub airports.
“If we delay any longer it doesn’t mean we stand still, it means we lose routes to other European hubs and places like Dubai, it means the loss of jobs and the weakening of our economic prospects for the future,” Ellman told Sky News. “It really is time for decision making.”
“What the business community wants is a clear and final decision. No more delays, no more endless consultation. After three years of debating the issue in the commission, it is now time to get on with it,” said Gavin Hayes, director of the Let Britain Fly campaign.
In a letter to Cameron, by Let Britain Fly, a group of business lobbyists and unions said: “We all believe airport expansion in order to improve both our international and domestic connectivity is an issue of national importance that is fundamental to securing long-term economic growth and decent jobs in all the nations and regions of the UK.
“Having excellent air connectivity is vital to the success of British businesses and for the UK economy – it promotes trade and inward investment, enhances productivity and supports high-skilled quality employment and directly susindustrial sectors of strategic national importance.
“Research for the Airports Commission found that a new third runway at Heathrow could deliver up to £211bn in economic growth and up to 180,000 new jobs nationwide. The airport itself has committed to double the number of apprenticeships to 10,000.”
Meanwhile there is also support against the third runway. John Stewart, a campaigner at Hacan, said: “My instinct would be that the government will try to postpone a final decision until after the mayoral election by making an announcement that the final decision will be dependent on noise and air pollution conditions being met.”
The Heathrow expansion is causing tension within both the Conservative and Labour parties. Corbyn, unlike most other Labour MPs, says that he is opposed to the expansion – on environmental grounds – while Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond Park said that if the runway is approved he would resign.