Financial News

  • 17 December 2013, 6:12

Airport Row: New Runway Shortlist Revealed

A shortlist of airport expansion options that could include a third runway at Heathrow will be announced today.

New runways at Gatwick and Stansted airports could also be on the list in the first report of a government-appointed commission chaired by former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies.

London mayor Boris Johnson, who is bitterly opposed to expansion at Heathrow, will be hoping his preferred new Thames Estuary airport plan - dubbed "Boris Island" - makes the Davies shortlist.

Sir Howard's team will also announce measures to deal with capacity problems in the short term.

These could include making more use of the two existing runways at Heathrow, where homes will be lost if a new runway is built.

But there will be no firm, long-term announcements or final runway decisions in today's report.

Those will come when the commission makes its final report in summer 2015 - after the next General Election.

As with the HS2 high-speed rail project, the airport expansion debate has been heated.

While bosses at both Heathrow and Gatwick have made the case for runway expansion, Mr Johnson has described the building of a third runway at Heathrow as "environmentally disastrous and wrong for London and the UK".

The last Labour government had supported a third runway at Heathrow, but expansion at the west London airport was ruled out by the coalition Government when it took power in May 2010.

Last week, Tory MP Zac Goldsmith said any decision from the Prime Minister to back Heathrow expansion would represent an "off-the-scale betrayal" and Mr Cameron would "never be forgiven in west London".

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said the coalition's pledge was not to build a third runway "in this Parliament" and stressed any decision would come after summer 2015.

He said the decision would be in the best interests of the UK, not just London, and pointed out that aircraft are becoming quieter and more fuel-efficient.

:: Watch the announcement from 7am live on Sky News on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.