The Government has “largely squandered” the benefits of the Airports Commission’s work on solving the air capacity crisis in the South East, MPs have blasted.
The cross-party Transport Committee said the creation of the Sir Howard Davies led panel held the possibility of ending indecision over where to build a new runway.
But 10 months after the Airports Commission recommended that a third runway be built at Heathrow, ministers are still to approve the project, or to rule out rival bids to build a second runway at Gatwick and to expand an existing landing strip at Heathrow.
The Transport Committee said in a report published today: “The creation of the Airports Commission briefly held out the hope that an evidence-based decision would end years of political dithering, but the government has largely squandered this opportunity by delaying its decision and calling for further work.
“We recommend that the government take a decision on location at the earliest possible opportunity. We would prefer that decision to be for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow, together with the package of accompanying measures recommended by the Airports Commission.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The case for aviation expansion is clear – but it’s vitally important we get the decision right so that it will benefit generations to come. As well as progressing the package of further work announced in December, the government will continue to consider the Commission’s evidence before reaching a view on its preferred scheme.
“We are undertaking more work on environmental impacts, including air quality, noise and carbon so we can develop the best possible package of measures to mitigate the impacts on local people. We anticipate that this work will conclude by the summer.”
Heathrow called on the Government to back its plans for a third runway.
“Families and businesses across the nation are counting on the prime minister to secure Britain’s long term future,” said a spokesman for the West London airport. “Only an expanded Heathrow delivers and now is the time to make it happen.”
Gatwick insisted its second runway plans should be approved instead.
A spokesperson for the Sussex airport said: “The opportunity to end decades of delay and false starts can only be achieved by giving the green light for Gatwick expansion.”