Stephen Nelson, Chief Executive of BAA, was asked if the airports operator would stick to pledges it made in 1994, when a third runway was discounted. "The previous CEO of BAA gave assurance that there would not be a case for further expansion. That was 12 years ago.
"It is very important for me to emphasise looking forward I will not be giving undertakings which in some sense could be considered hostage to fortune in the future. It would be inappropriate for me to speculate on whether there will be a further case for capacity expansion beyond 2030," he said.
Darren Johnson Assembly Member and Chair of the Environment Committee said: "The case that has been put before Londoners in favour of expansion at Heathrow is based on evidence that is neither neutral nor independent. Now we hear that even more expansion beyond the current proposals cannot be ruled out.
"People do not feel anyone is really listening to their concerns yet there are very valid arguments against expansion to be made. We have heard the economic benefits of Heathrow are overestimated, while the costs of expansion in terms of increased carbon emissions and the detrimental impact on peoples' quality of life may have been underestimated."
The Committee members quizzed representatives from BAA, Virgin Atlantic, Future Heathrow, HACAN Clearskies, and the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Hounslow, Richmond and Wandsworth about proposals to expand Heathrow, and what the impact of expansion would be.
The Committee will agree its formal consultation response to the Government on 26 February 2008.