MPs to quiz Transport Secretary over airport decision delay

MPs to quiz Transport Secretary over airport decision delay

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin will be grilled by MPs over the government's delay in making a final decision over airport expansion in the south east.

He will appear before the Commons' transport select committee after announcing in December that further analysis of the environmental impacts was needed before increased capacity at Heathrow or Gatwick could be given the go ahead.

The Davies Commission recommended last July that a third runway should be built at Heathrow, at a cost of £18.6bn.

Other shortlisted options are extension of the existing northern runway at Heathrow - costing £13.5bn - or building a second runway at Gatwick, which would cost £9.3bn.

Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman said: "In recent weeks the government has suggested that a decision on where to build a new runway in the south east is going to be delayed even longer.

"The government has already broken a promise to make a decision by the end of 2015. Businesses are making investment decisions now and need to know that the UK is capable of making the tough choices on infrastructure and international connectivity.

"The transport committee will be questioning the Secretary of State on his reasons for delaying a decision and on his future timetable for airport expansion."

On Sunday 13 of Britain's largest construction and development firms wrote to George Osborne urging him to live up to his declaration that "we are the builders" by supporting a third runway at Heathrow.

The letter to the Chancellor said the west London airport has provided a "steady base of work" during the economic downturn and expansion would bring "a £15.6bn order book to the UK supply chain".

It also noted last year's report by respected international economic think tank the OECD which found that the UK has historically underspent on infrastructure, partially due to "long decision-making processes".

The signatories, including the bosses of Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall, Laing O'Rourke and BAM Nuttall, wrote: "Let us help you build a better Britain by expanding Heathrow."