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Heathrow third runway decision in New Year

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon has promised parliament that a decision on whether to build a new runway at Heathrow airport will be announced in January.

In a statement to the house, Hoon said: "The 2003 White Paper "The Future of Air Transport" made clear that given the economic benefits to the United Kingdom, the Government supports the further development of Heathrow by adding a third runway and exploring the scope for making greater use of the existing runways, subject to meeting strict local conditions on air quality, noise and improving public transport access.

"The then Secretary of State, my Rt Hon Friend the Member for Bolton West [Ruth Kelly], made a statement to the House on 8 July 2008 which explained progress following the "Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport" consultation, which closed on 27 February 2008.

"She announced a further consultative exercise as part of delivering a full equalities impact assessment and the intention to inform the House of the decision on the future development of Heathrow before the end of the year. The further consultative exercise closed on 9 November 2008.

"Since being appointed Secretary of State for Transport in October, I have had the opportunity to hear views from across the House in debate on 5 November and to begin considering the evidence, including the 70,000 responses to the consultation.

"I share the desire on all sides of the House, and among the wider public for this issue to be resolved. I am equally aware of the importance of reaching the right conclusion.

"I know that there are strong views across a range of interests. I will ensure that I give proper consideration to the evidence before me and will therefore take more time before making an announcement to the House, in January 2009," he said.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have consistently opposed a third runway at Heathrow.

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