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Cameron: Rebalance the economy outside of London

David Cameron's official spokesman has not sought to distance the Prime Minister from the Business Secretary's remarks over London "draining" the rest of the UK, at a Westminster briefing today.

Prime Minister David Cameron (right) and Business Secretary Vince Cable (left). Credit: Anthony Devlin /PA Wire

Instead, he highlighted the PM's earlier comments about the need to rebalance the UK's economy towards areas outside London and the South-East.

"I think the Prime Minister has been clear about the importance of rebalancing the economy," said the spokesman.

Johnson claims Cable 'drain' comments are 'rubbish'

London now contributes more to UK GDP than ever before, the Mayor of London said today refuting claims made by the Business Secretary, who claimed that the capital was "draining" the rest of the UK due to its airport expansion plans.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson Credit: Anthony Devlin /PA Wire

Boris Johnson said: "What a stupefying and ridiculous assertion to make, and this from the Cabinet Minister in charge of supposedly growing the UK economy. He's talking rubbish, I'm amazed and I fundamentally disagree, in fact the opposite is true.

"This city is the motor of the UK economy, and the gateway to recovery across the country, attracting record levels of overseas investment, all of which is helping not hindering recovery.

"Far from being a drain on the rest of the UK London is helping to drive job creation and growth outside the capital as well as in it."

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London 'draining life from UK' through airport expansion

Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned London is "becoming a giant suction machine draining the life" from the rest of the country as he renewed his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow.

Business Secretary Vince Cable Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

The senior Liberal Democrat said the issue of regional capacity had not been sufficiently addressed by a Whitehall-commissioned review of airport provision.

He stood by his determination that expansion of the country's biggest airport - the flightpath of which crosses his Twickenham constituency - "is not going to happen".

Read: Heathrow and Gatwick shortlisted for expansion

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Heathrow runway to be built over the top of the M25

Of the three options for expansion presented by Heathrow Airport Ltd in the summer, the Airports Commission is only progressing one of them: the plans for a new runway to the north west of the existing airport.

The other Heathrow idea being investigated by the Commission comes from a pressure group called Heathrow Hub: the extension of one of the current runways.

The proposal is to build a third runway to the north west of the existing airport. It is a different proposal to the one approved by Gordon Brown when he was Prime Minister.

The new runway would be the north west of the current airport, meaning it would have to go over the motorway. Credit: Heathrow Airport.

The new runway is further to the west - and anyone who knows this area will work out it brings the runway of Britain's busiest airport into conflict with Britain's busiest motorway, the M25. Look at the plan and you will see the runway is built over the top of the motorway.

That is not unusual. At Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, a motorway passes under one of the runways in a tunnel. But it does mean this option is not cheap.

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Gatwick expansion plans 'would afflict 30K local people'

Thirty thousand people would be negatively affected by plans to build a new runway at Gatwick Airport, the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign said.

Map showing the possible new flight paths from a new runway. Credit: Gatwick Area Conservation Group

The campaign group have drawn up a list of possible flight plans, should the project be given the go ahead.

The plans were made in consultation with air traffic control experts, as airports are currently not required to publish flight paths before the runways are built, Brendon Sewill, Chairman of the campaign said.

The plans were made in consultation with air traffic control experts, as airports are currently not required to publish flight paths before the runways are built, Mr Sewill said.

Mr Sewill said a new runway would mean an extra thirty thousand people would be afflicted with noise pollution, bringing the total across the area to 42,000. He said:

"We are not surprised as we always expected matter into focus, but we know we are in for a big battle.

"Howard Davies says we don't need a new runway until 2030 and the plans are not until 2040, but we need to fight like mad to stop a decision that will afflict the whole of Sussex, and much of Surrey and Kent.

"We are agree with national environmental organisations that any new runway anywhere is not compatible with the national enviromental policies.

"Also, the main concern about a new runway in Gatwick is that it would mean the inwards migration of a large number of people from the rest of UK, or from the EU with the need for 40,000 new houses, according to West Sussex County council."

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Zac Goldsmith: No political consensus on a 3rd runway

The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, an opponent to Heathrow expansion, has been making his views clear on the options of the interim report into the issue:

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Thames Estuary airport options not shortlisted

The Airports commission said it had not shortlisted any of the Thames Estuary options "because there are too many uncertainties and challenges surrounding them at this stage".

It said it would undertake further study of the Isle of Grain option in the first half of 2014 and said it would:

Will reach a view later next year on whether that option offers a credible proposal for consideration alongside the other shortlisted options.

The commission said it had not shortlisted proposals for expansion at Stansted or Birmingham Airports, but it added:

There is likely to be a case for considering them as potential options for any second new runway by 2050.

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New runways considered at Gatwick and Heathrow

The Airports Commissions' independent review into airport capacity in the UK has concluded that there is a need for one additional runway to be up and running in the south east by 2030.

Two of the options that will be studied further will be at Heathrow airport. Credit: Reuters

The commission found that there is likely to be a demand case for a second additional runway to be operational by 2050.

Read: Airports Commission: New runway needed by 2030

The Commission said it will now investigate further feasibility studies to look into proposals for new runways in two locations - at Heathrow and Gatwick.

At Gatwick, the group will study the airport's proposals for a new runway to the south of the existing runway.

At Heathrow, two options are on the table: the existing plan for one new 3,500m runway to the northwest, and a new proposals from Heathrow Hub to extend the existing northern runway to at least 6,000m, enabling the the extended runway to operate as two independent runways.

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