2 July 2015

Given that the Airports Commission has taken three years to gather evidence and come to a decision with regard to expanding the UK's aviation capacity, business groups would like the Government to accept the recommendation and start work.

The Commission's final report, available here, has come down firmly on the side of building a third runway at Heathrow.

All in favour?

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) spoke for many when it said that an irreversible government commitment to this option should be in place by the end of 2015, with planning complete and diggers on the ground by 2020.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) echoed these views with Director-General John Cridland warning that "each day the Government delays taking the decision, the UK loses out as our competitors reap the rewards and strengthen their trade links".

It is not often that the Institute of Directors (IoD) and Britain’s largest union, Unite, speak as one but both have urged the Government to accept the recommendation in order to boost jobs and the economy.

Not quite…

So far, so harmonious but residents in the area that would be affected by the plans for a new runway are dismayed at the choice and many of them are in constituencies held by Conservative MPs.

With even the Prime Minister having previously spoken out against expanding Heathrow, the choice is therefore likely to be as influenced by politics as by economics.

Those against the proposal have a ready-made champion in Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Now also an MP, Mr Johnson has described the Commission's recommendation as "highly predictable, short-termist and completely politically undeliverable".

The Mayor also described pledges to cut aircraft noise made in the Commission report as hokum and promised that the choice "would be judicially reviewed from here to kingdom come".

Also firmly against the choice of Heathrow is the Campaign for Better Transport with Head of Campaigns James MacColl pointing out that Heathrow expansion will put a huge strain on the surrounding road network, especially the M25 and M4 which "are both already at bursting point".