UK government delays runway decision

The British government has delayed a decision on the potential construction of a new runway in the south-east of England until at least the middle of 2016.

Citing concerns over the environmental impact of the development, the department for transport said more work was needed to fully understand the risks.

A statement explained: “The next step is to continue to develop the best possible package of measures to mitigate the impacts on local people and the environment.

“This will include a package for local communities to include compensation, maximising local economic opportunities through new jobs and apprenticeships, and measures to tackle noise.”

The government will now undertake a package of further work and we anticipate that it will conclude over the summer of 2016.

This will be done quickly so that the timetable for delivering capacity set out by the Airports Commission can be met, added the department for transport.

The Airports Commission recommended the expansion of Heathrow Airport earlier this year following an exhaustive study.

Following the announcement John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow Airport said: “The Airports Commission, announced by the prime minister three years ago, made a unanimous and unambiguous recommendation in July for Heathrow expansion.

“Our new plan will connect the whole nation to global growth while providing opportunities for the local community and making Heathrow the most environmentally responsible hub airport in the world.

“I am confident we can meet tough environmental standards.

“We have support locally and nationally from politicians, business, trade unions and the aviation industry for Heathrow expansion.

“Let’s get on and build a better future for Britain.”

The mechanism for delivering planning consents for airport expansion will be an ‘Airports national policy statement’, following which a scheme promoter would need to apply for a development consent orders.

Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “This is a defining moment in the expansion debate.

“There is now a clear choice facing Britain: growth with Gatwick or inertia at Heathrow with an illegal scheme that has failed time and time again.

“We have always maintained that this decision is about balancing the economy and the environment. Expansion at Gatwick would give the country the economic benefit it needs at a dramatically lower environmental cost.

“We are glad that the Government recognises that more work on environmental impact needs to be done.

“Air quality, for example, is a public health priority and obviously the legal safeguards around it cannot be wished away.”

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