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BBT March/April 2019 cover
March/April 2019

Next PM urged to approve Heathrow expansion

A new north-west runway (left) would be a full 3,200m long. Enough for any aircraft type to use

A group of Conservative MPs have called for the party’s new leader and prime minister to “act swiftly” and give the green light for Heathrow expansion.

The eight MPs, who have constituencies close to Gatwick and are opposed to expansion at the Sussex airport, have written to the two leadership candidates Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom about airport expansion.

The politicians are members of the Gatwick Coordination Group, which was formed to fight Gatwick’s expansion, and is chaired by Reigate MP Crispin Blunt.

In the letter, the MPs write: “It is clear that it would be a betrayal of the vision we put to the country if we were to make a decision to expand Gatwick airport, and further still, an undermining of the very ideals that bind us together and define us as the Conservative Party.”

Blunt added: “A commitment to implementing the Heathrow recommendation will show that the next prime minister is ready to get on with delivering this important infrastructure project – so important for strengthening the UK’s trading links with markets around the world.

“Gatwick can’t do this by adding some more short-haul flights to vacation destinations in Europe.”

The Airports Commission last year recommended that Heathrow should be allowed to build a third runway. The government had promised to make a decision this summer but this has now been put off until after a new Conservative leader and PM is elected.

Home secretary May, whose Maidenhead constituency lies on the Heathrow flightpath, has previously raised concerns about the impact of noise on her constituents. But she has vowed not to take sides on airport expansion before there is a formal cabinet decision.

Her rival Leadsom has promised “an early decision” on the runways issue during TV interviews this week.

“I think part of the whole agenda of being open for business is about making sure that people can get here and also get there,” she said.

“We need an early decision so that would be my top priority but again I’m not making a commitment here and now.”

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