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No decision on airport expansion until 'at least October'

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The transport secretary has confirmed a government decision on the airport expansion has been delayed until ‘October at least’, as construction leaders urged him to support growth at Heathrow

Answering questions in the House of Commons this morning (30 June), Patrick McLoughlin said he had hoped the government ’would be able to announce a decision this summer’ but that it would now be delayed.

In May, the transport select committee urged the government to stop ‘dithering’ over the issue and give the green light for a third runway at Heathrow (see AJ 04.05.16).

But, speaking in the wake of last week’s Brexit vote, McLoughlin insisted the decision had to be made when the House of Commons was in session and that he couldn’t ’see an announcement until at least October’.

In response to a later statement by an MP criticising the delay, McLoughlin referred to making the decision ‘this year’ and criticised the Labour Party’s lack of action when it was in power before 2010.

In a letter to the transport secretary today, more than 170 business leaders, including many from construction and property, have backed Heathrow expansion as crucial to Britain remaining ’an outward-looking trading nation’.

Earlier this year Heathrow Airport revealed a four-strong shortlist of practice including Zaha Hadid Architects to draw up concepts for a ’hub airport of the future’ as part of its expansion plans

Grimshaw, Benoy and HOK - originally rumoured to be working with Thomas Heatherwick - were also named as finalists for the job ’to create a world-class sustainable airport that would deliver innovations in passenger service’ (see AJ 11.05.16). 

A winner is expected to be announced next month.

Gatwick results

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate told the AJ’s sister title Construction News this week that its target of starting construction on its own expansion scheme in 2019 would be under threat from further delays.

In its results for the year to 31 March 2016 announced today, Gatwick said passenger numbers were up 6 per cent and air traffic movements up 4 per cent on 2015.

Wingate said: ’Today’s results offer a glimpse of the benefits a two-runway Gatwick would deliver for the UK – guaranteed growth with limited environmental impacts and at a cost the country can afford. The time is fast approaching to give expansion at Gatwick the green light so Britain can get the benefits.”

Labour MP Lilian Greenwood described the further delay as exacerbating, saying the uncertainty over major infrastructure projects like HS2 and Heathrow was leaving ’hundreds of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships in the balance’ and that the delay would add to the ‘economic shock’ from the EU referendum.

Gove enters the fray

  • McLoughlin hit back at Labour’s record and said the Conservative government was increasing investment in this parliament.
  • Frontrunner to be the next prime minister Theresa May is an opponent of further Heathrow expansion.
  • Boris Johnson, previously a frontrunner for the PM role today, confirmed he will not seek the leadership of the Conservative Party.
  • However, Michael Gove, who announced his candidacy to replace David Cameron today, has previously backed Heathrow expansion and in 2013 called the airport a ’good corporate citizen’.
  • The Airports Commission released its final report into expansion a year ago tomorrow.

Heathrow letter signatories include:

  • George Beveridge, deputy MD, Amec Foster Wheeler
  • Jolyon Brewis, partner, Grimshaw Architects
  • Cristiano Ceccato, associate director, Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Vincent Clancy, CEO, Turner & Townsend
  • Susan Crookes, UK AMA co-ordinator, Balfour Beatty Construction Services
  • Nick Fletcher, managing director infrastructure, Morgan Sindall
  • Bernardo Gogna, senior vice-president – director global aviation, Aecom
  • Stephen Griggs, operations manager, Spie
  • Keith Howells, chairman and chief executive, Mott MacDonald
  • Richard Matthews, director, Arup
  • Barry McNicholas, CEO, McNicholas
  • Simon Priestley, director of energy, Mitie
  • Alasdair Reisner, chief executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association
  • Patrick Riordan, operations director, Danny Sullivan Group
  • Mark Reynolds, CEO, Mace Group
  • David Sleath, CEO, Segro
  • Graeme White, fit-out divisional director, ISG
  • Gary Wintersgill, managing director, Severfield
  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • MacKenzie Architects

    Here's another solution.

    Give Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted the go-ahead to do whatever they want to.
    Take HS2 and join up these 3 airports and Luton with a 200mph train route alongside M25
    Build big carparks at each of these locations for commuters * from outside the ring road,and fire in fast trainlines into town.

    Oh, and build a cable car from Luton Parkway up to the airport.I hear there is one going cheap down in Docklands.

    * not that I want everyone to live a rat's life in Greater London, but since they live there already, might as well help them with their 90 min / 2hr commutes.

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