Another airport delay, but Birmingham set for lift off
A Government decision about a third runway at Heathrow has been put back a week in order to allow ministers to “freely express” their views.
It is understood that Birmingham will be urged by government to advance its proposals for an additional runway. Chamberlain Files believes that will encourage Birmingham Airport to bring forward publication of its next draft master plan, to include a second runway.
A decision on airport capacity had originally been expected to today, but No 10 lobby briefings yesterday and this morning confirmed a delay of a further week. Cabinet met and discussed the issue earlier with a further week said to allow ministers who oppose the decision to have a “set period” to express their views.
Collective Cabinet responsibility has been temporarily suspended. A free vote will be allowed on the issue.
A Cabinet sub-committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, will make the final decision next week. The Economy and Industrial Strategy (Airports) sub-committee includes Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, Tory chair Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Whip Gavin Williamson. All are MPs with constituencies in the Midlands Engine area. There are no London MPs on the sub-committee.
Birmingham Airport was the only non-London based airport to not be entirely discounted by the Airport Commission’s report. The interim report stated that:
It would offer the largest catchment of people within two hours of the airport of all options. This is largely dependent on the journey time assumptions of HS2, which also makes the London airport system easier to access for passengers from Birmingham’s core aviation market.
It is also reported by New Civil Engineer that Gatwick will be encouraged to develop its next runway in five years’ time.
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