Government told to make decision on expanding UK airport capacity

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The UK government has squandered its opportunity to end decades of political dithering on expanding airport capacity in the South East of England, its Transport Committee says.

The Committee, which supports building a third runway at Heathrow Airport, says the debate on expanding capacity has not moved on since the 1990s.

The government has been debating how to expand capacity, most recently with the Airports Commission, which released its report in July 2015 giving its support to expanding Heathrow Airport.

In December 2015 the government put off the decision until the summer of 2016 so further consultation on environmental issues could be carried out.

Committee chair, Louise Ellman says: “Across the world, cities are collectively planning to build more than 50 new runways with capacity to serve one billion additional passenger journeys by 2036.”

“The growth of large hubs in the Middle and Far East and North America threatens our position as a hub of international aviation. The UK’s connectivity with the world’s emerging markets is a major concern.”

The three options being considered by the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies were a third runway at Heathrow Airport, extending the existing runways at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick Airport. It concluded the South East needed an additional runway by 2030 and another by 2050, with a third one at Heathrow the being the best option.