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Short pause on Heathrow while Cabinet ministers express views

News   •   Oct 18, 2016 15:07 BST

Theresa May to allow short pause on airport expansion decision so that Cabinet members can express their views.

With the decision on which airport will be expanded soon to be made, Prime Minister Theresa May has made it clear that she wants to hear a wide-range of opinions from her colleagues, and will take a short pause while Cabinet members can express their views.

According to the BBC, the Cabinet will discuss the issue today (18 October) but no final decision is expected.

The Economic Affairs (Transport) sub-committee, chaired by Mrs May, will then make the final decision on whether or not to back Heathrow or Gatwick.

A possible option is for the committee to meet next Tuesday 25 October, with an announcement on the same day.

Although it has been made clear that no final decision has been taken, government officials believe that a third runway at Heathrow or an expansion of the existing runways are now the leading options.

There are split decisions within the Cabinet, where Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has been a long-time opponent of Heathrow, describing it as a “fantasy”. Justine Greening, Education Secretary, is also opposed.

Heavyweights who have previously been pro-Heathrow include Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, and Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary.

Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has not expressed a view, however senior Treasury officials have made it clear they believe Heathrow is a better option for boosting economic growth due to it being closer to many more population centres in the UK compared to Gatwick, including Bristol and the South West, the Midlands and the north of England.

High Speed 2, the super speed rail link planned between London and Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, will run closer to Heathrow.

One other Cabinet minister told me: “I would do both Heathrow and Gatwick – that would tell the world Britain is open for business.”

Heathrow’s greatest challenge is on the environment and noise, and many within the government believe a myriad of legal challenges are inevitable from local groups and environmental organisations if a third runway is given the go-ahead.

The airport indicated that a last-minute Whitehall study into concerns over pollution will give the all-clear.

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