A new growth strategy for the UK penned by Tory peer Lord Heseltine has demanded a decision on airport capacity for the southeast before the next general election.
In his report entitled No Stone Unturned in Pursuit of Growth, commissioned by the coalition government, he says the Sir Howard Davies inquiry into airport capacity would take too long.
Accusing the government of ‘intertia’ on the issue, Lord Heseltine says businesses need to know earlier than the next election what government thinking is on Heathrow.
“There is an unavoidable need for a decision,” he said.
Lord Heseltine said the government does not need to break any manifesto pledge not to build a third runway at Heathrow if that was a recommendation from the Davies inquiry.
He suggests the inquiry is asked to report next year and that the government could give an indicative decision but that no construction would take place until after the next election and only if the Tories were re-elected.
This, reported The Times on yesterday’s front page, would force the Labour opposition to state its preference before the election and allow preparatory work to begin.
“This would unblock the current situation where business sees at least three years more inertia before any indication of direction is provided,” Lord Heseltine told the newspaper.
The stance won immediate backing from Abta, with the association’s chief political lobbyist Luke Pollard, head of public affairs, tweeting his approval of the views expressed in The Times.
There is growing agreement among interested parties in the UK’s airport capacity plans that the Davies Inquiry will take too long to report its conclusions and that it was a way of kicking the issue into the political long grass.