Sussex MPs criticise Government delay over Heathrow expansion decision

Gatwick Airport 5-1-15 (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150601-100616001
Gatwick Airport 5-1-15 (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150601-100616001

Sussex MPs have criticised Government delays over a decision on whether or not to back expansion at Heathrow over a second runway at Gatwick.

The Airports Commission’s final report published in July recommended a third runway at Heathrow due to the greater economic benefits it would bring to the UK, and the Government was expected to announce whether it would accept the commission’s findings before the end of the year.

But now Prime Minister David Cameron looks set to delay any decision for at least six months later this week.

Nick Herbert, Arundel and South Downs MP, Crawley MP Henry Smith, Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames, Horsham MP Jeremy Quin, and Wealden MP Nus Ghani are all members of the Gatwick Coordination Group, which has criticised Government delays in accepting the Airports Commission’s findings.

Speaking on behalf of the group Mr Herbert said: “Let’s stop pretending that the Airports Commission offered ministers options - it didn’t. The commission made an unequivocal recommendation for Heathrow.

“It said that Gatwick would deliver half the economic benefit, has insufficient transport connections especially to the north, and would fail to provide the hub airport which Britain needs.

“Keeping a sub-optimal choice of Gatwick alive just so as to delay an inevitable decision on Heathrow blights local communities, helps no-one and risks reflecting badly on us.

“Five months have now elapsed since the Commission produced its report. We can’t credibly talk about a long-term economic plan, or taking decisions in the national interest, if we then run away from the big tests.

“The Government set up this commission. The recommendation is clear. It’s time to get on with it.”

Since the Airports Commission’s report was published in July Gatwick Airport has criticised the findings and continued to press for a second runway.

Both Tory and Labour candidates looking to replace Boris Johnson as Mayor of London in May next year, Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan, are opposed to expansion of Heathrow.

The coordination group is chaired by Regiate MP Crispin Blunt and also includes Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, and Mole Valley MP Sir Paul Beresford.

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