The government has given itself six months to reach a decision on the mooted Heathrow expansion, despite pleas for earlier action.
Business secretary Sajid Javid today said ministers would reach a verdict on how best to meet the air capacity crisis in the South East by the end of this year.
Revealing moves to boost productivity across the UK, Javid said the government was going to invest £100bn in infrastructure this Parliament.
“We’re going to grasp the nettle of airport capacity in the South East, taking a decision by the end of this year,” he pledged.
Javid cited the previously announced ringfencing of vehicle excise duty for roads projects and changes to the way Network Rail works as examples of the way the government was improving productivity.
He also revealed measures to give automatic planning permission on suitable brownfield sites.
“We’ll get Britain moving, we’ll get Britain building, and we’ll get Britain learning,” said the minister. “We’ll deliver the infrastructure and skills this country needs to become the world’s richest major economy.”
Aecom called for infrastructure needs to be considered alongside housing on brownfield sites.
The consultancy’s design and planning practice leader Andrew Jones said: “Former industrial, brownfield sites are often disconnected from vital social infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, and good transport connections. We caution against a disjointed approach that creates new housing isolated from existing communities.”
Institution of Civil Engineers director general Nick Baveystock said:“This is a sound approach to improving the UK’s productivity, with infrastructure – a catalyst for boosting growth, skills and innovation - rightly placed at its heart. Government also articulates well the problems with our infrastructure and barriers to enabling these benefits, and the proposed National Infrastructure Plan for Skills will form a vital piece of the puzzle.
“We now need to see this vision translate into action - shifting things to the next level. While the renewed commitment to many initiatives and policies is welcome - actually achieving the ‘lasting change’ Government aspires to will depend on decisions being made and ultimately, implementation.”