Expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick Airports are the shortlisted options being considered by a government-backed commission into airport expansion. In its interim report, the commission also says a new airport will be needed in the South East by 2030.
Expansion at Stansted airport in Essex has been ruled out until after 2030 by the commission, which is headed by former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies.
Sir Howard's team have not closed the door on a Thames Estuary scheme, which is favoured by London mayor Boris Johnson.
But although the commission will study estuary schemes further, Sir Howard described it as "imaginative", adding that it could cost as much as £112 billion, would need much more public money than the other options and the construction challenge would be "massive".
Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg reports:
A summary of the main points from the interim report by the Independent Airports Commission:
- Heathrow is effectively full and Gatwick is operating at more than 85% of capacity
- Aviation demand "likely to increase significantly between now and 2050"
- Demand is likely to be concentrated in the South East, where more people live and wages are higher on average
- There is a need for one additional runway to be in operation in South East by 2030 and likely to be demand for a second one by 2050
- Proposals for additional runways at Heathrow and Gatwick were short-listed. 'Boris Island' proposal in Thames Estuary will be looked at in first half of 2014 and may join short list.
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith said he would not stand as a Conservative party candidate if David Cameron regaled on his "No ifs, no buts" earlier position on building another runway. Speaking to ITV News he said:
"If we go into the next election with a green light for Heathrow expansion, I would not able to stand as a Conservative."