National Infrastructure Commission chair Lord Adonis has said there is only a 50:50 chance the government will make a decision on Heathrow’s proposed third runway next year.
Speaking at the London Infrastructure Summit, Adonis claimed airports policy was a “complete national disgrace”.
He said it had taken 25 years to get to a decision on south east airports expansion, but there was still little clarity on what will happen next.
“As of now, it’s no more than 50:50 that a decision will be taken on Heathrow next year,” he said.
“On the ‘for’ side, you’ve got the last two governments which said it was pretty much essential, and there’s a two thirds majority in the House of Commons. But unfortunately on the negative side, we have foreign secretary who is against it, a chancellor which the planes fly over their constituency, we have a prime minister where they fly pretty near to her constituency and we have a mayor of London who has unfortunately put himself in the wrong place on Heathrow.
“All of those factors will conspire against a decision being taken next year.”
He added if he had to predict what would happen next, he said politicians would find that they would have to carry out a review into air quality which would take at least five years, therefore negating the need to make a decision in this parliament.
Adonis went on to add that Crossrail 2 shouldn’t be at the expense of other major transport projects in the UK.
Adonis said that both major projects are needed and that’s why they were part of the 12 key infrastructure decisions that the NIC said needed urgent government action.
His words on Crossrail 2 mirror those of the project’s managing director Michele Dix, who said at the same summit: “It is in no doubt, the UK has the capability to invest in several major schemes at the same time”.
Adonis said: “From the extension of the Jubilee line and preparations for the 2012 Olympics to the delivery of the Millennium Bridge and Crossrail, London has benefited from significant investment in its infrastructure over the past two decades.
“We need to maintain that momentum, and to get work underway on Crossrail 2 – but that cannot be at the expense of projects in the rest of the country.
“The new High Speed 2 line will not just benefit cities across the Midlands and North, but also the Capital as our north-south connections are made better and stronger. But to really fulfil its economic potential, we also need an HS3 line to connect our great Northern cities.
“London cannot afford lose sight of the benefits these projects could bring for growth across the country, and I’m encouraged that the Government and Mayors across the country are working together to make these happen.”