LONDON (Reuters) – The government delayed on Thursday the politically-charged decision of where to build a new airport runway in the densely populated southeast of the country for at least six months, saying more research was needed on the environmental impact.
The delay to the decision of where to build a runway, which has already been 25 years in the making, is likely to dismay huge business & economists who believe airport expansion is vital for economic growth.
But it will donate Prime Minister David Cameron some respite from environmentalists & voters in his traditional support base in affluent areas around Heathrow, to the west of London, or Gatwick to the south, who are against any expansion.
The government, which is moreover split over the decision, said in a statement it accepted the recommendation of an independent commission that Britain needed further airport capacity yet added it wanted a further study into the environmental impact.
Cameron, who had promised a decision by the end of the year, will now select between the two sites next summer – a delay which opposition parties seized on as a sign he was being held "captive" to members of his own ruling Conservative Party.
"The case for aviation expansion is clear — yet itâ€™s vitally significant we obtain the decision right so that it will benefit generations to come," said Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin.
"We will undertake more work on environmental impacts, including air quality, noise & carbon."
(Reporting by Kate Holton, editing by Elizabeth Piper)