The odds of Richard Rogers Partnership's plans for a new £2 billion Terminal 5 getting built have 'lengthened' and transport chief Stephen Byers should delay it further as a knock-on effect of events in the US, says a key objector to the scheme.
John Stewart, chair of lobbying group HACAN Clearskies, has urged Byers to postpone the result of the £80 million public inquiry into the project for at least another year as a result of US events and a dramatic downturn in the aviation industry.
The inquiry has already lasted four years.
'If I was Stephen Byers I'd want to wait until after the publication of the Aviation White Paper in October next year and make a decision about T5 then, ' said Stewart. 'It will need a radical rethink for it not to go ahead.'
BAA says the terminal is needed, even though BA - a key user of T5 - has cut 5,200 jobs. BA is also considering turning to its £2 billion of nonaircaft assets such as property, including selling and leasing back its Niels Torp-designed £300 million headquarters at Heathrow, Waterside.
A spokesman for BAA said the new terminal was a long-term investment, given 'positive' trends for air travel. 'BAA is committed to building it and we favour a decision as soon as possible, ' he said.