Whitehall leaks suggest expansion to London's airports

Whitehall sources have suggested that an interim report by the Davies Airport Commission could select three or four choices from the 58 options its has been presented with - all are London airports

Decision in 18 months despite Heathrow 'obsession'

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has spoken of the "obsession" around building more runways at Heathrow Airport, adding that Government will listen to a panel of experts before making any decisions in 18 months time on the future of UK air capacity.

What we said at the last general election was that we would not build a third runway in this Parliament.

We will not be building a third runway in this Parliament. We will stick by our manifesto commitment.

But it is right for the long-term future of the United Kingdom, we have a panel of experts who will widely be regarded as doing a proper and comprehensive job, and I want to see what their interim report is this week and their final report in 18 months' time and then we'll be able to say which is the right way to go forward.

– The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

Asked on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show if the right way forward would be Heathrow expansion, Mr McLoughlin said: "You seem more obsessed about Heathrow than I am."

After being told "everyone is obsessed about it", Mr McLoughlin replied: "Indeed they are, but let's wait and see what the commission say in the longer term."

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Transport Secretary won't rule out Heathrow expansion

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has refused to rule out Heathrow airport expansion after 2015 and insisted David Cameron would not be betraying voters if a third runway is built in west London after the next election.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin Credit: David Jones/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mr McLoughlin appeared to suggest people are "obsessing" over Heathrow with the Government-appointed Airports Commission due to publish an interim report containing a short-list of options for extra runways at UK airports this week.

There has been speculation that the commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, will include options for a third or even a fourth runway at the west London airport, to the dismay of London Mayor Boris Johnson and prominent Tory backbencher Zac Goldsmith.

Read: Whitehall leaks suggest expansion to London's airports

Whitehall leaks suggest expansion to London's airports

Whitehall sources have suggested that an interim report by the Davies Airport Commission could select three or four choices from the 58 options its has been presented with - all are London airports

A sign in the village of Longford near Heathrow Airport. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Sources close to the Commission, as cited by the Independent on Sunday, suggest a third runway at Heathrow will be included, with two options north and south of the airport's current runways. Either could be expanded and could transform Heathrow into a four-runway airport.

Plans for second runways at Gatwick and Stansted are also expected to be taken on, while the newspaper says leaks from Whitehall suggest the London Mayor's Boris Island proposal for a new airport hub in the Thames estuary may be dead in the water.

Read: Heathrow expansion U-turn would be a 'betrayal'

Report to examine short-list of airport options

A short-list of options for extra runways at UK airports is set to be included in the first report of the Government-appointed Airports Commission this week.

And for the short term the commission will also propose changes such as making more use of existing runways until the long-term expansion plans can be fulfilled.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson about to board a plane. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images

There has been much speculation that the commission, chaired by former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies, will include in its options a third runway, or possibly even a fourth, at Heathrow in west London.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who favours a brand new Thames Estuary airport dubbed "Boris Island", said last week that Heathrow expansion was "environmentally disastrous" and "bad for London and the country".

Read: MP: Heathrow expansion U-turn would be a 'betrayal'

Heathrow expansion review not 'arms length' says MP

The MP for Richmond Park & North Kingston seat Zac Goldsmith - a leading opponent of Heathrow expansion - said that a commission led by Sir Howard Davies into Heathrow expansion was not the "arms-length" review promised by ministers.

The MP for Richmond Park & North Kingston seat Zac Goldsmith. Credit: PA

He claimed that Chancellor George Osborne had been instrumental in making sure that other options apart from Heathrow would be contained in the report to be published on Tuesday.

But he said this was only to "cynically" provide political cover to avoid making a final decision until after the next election in 2015.

Read: MP: Heathrow expansion U-turn would be a 'betrayal'

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MP: Heathrow expansion U-turn would be a 'betrayal'

A Heathrow expansion U-turn by David Cameron would be an "off-the-scale betrayal" a Tory MP has said.

Passengers queue to check in and to re-book tickets at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park & North Kingston, whose seat would be affected by a third runway, said the move would make voters question whether the Prime Minister could be trusted, and would be "catastrophic' for Mr Cameron's reputation.

Government-appointed Airports Commission is due to outline its initial thoughts in a report next week. Mr Goldsmith has questioned its independence and suggested that accepting its findings would, in effect, be supporting the expansion of Heathrow.