11 May 2016

A decision on airport expansion in the South East of England cannot keep being put off, MPs have warned the Government.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has been urged by the House of Commons Transport Committee "to have the courage to take a difficult, and for some people unpopular, decision".

In the report, MPs call on the Secretary of State to set out a clear timetable for expansion, clarifying which measures have been accepted or rejected and what work remains to be completed.

The Transport Committee itself supports the expansion of Heathrow and the associated package of measures recommended by the Airports Commission.

Decisions on airport expansion in the South East have been delayed time and time again, the report points out, although the arguments for and against expansion have changed little in a quarter of a century.

Despite the case for expansion having been made and accepted repeatedly, no Government has yet been able to reach a decision on expansion that has had any prospect of changing the status quo.

Urging the Secretary of State to take what will inevitably be seen as an unpopular decision by some people, the Chairwoman of the Transport Committee, Louise Ellman, said: "The decision on location is not the end of the process, it is the start of one. Real progress cannot begin until the location is declared. Work on environmental issues can run in parallel with other pre-construction work."

The MPs' report warns that doing nothing means that the UK continues to lose out, as the growth of large hubs in the Middle East, Far East and North America threatens the UK’s position as a centre of international aviation.

The full report from the House of Commons Transport Committee, "Airport expansion in the South East", is available here.