Chris Grayling hints that only one airport will get the green light for now

Rebecca Smith
The transport secretary has confirmed he will be announcing the airport expansion decision
The transport secretary has confirmed he will be announcing the airport expansion decision (Source: Getty)

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed he will be the minister announcing the decision on airport expansion, though he has not confirmed when it will be announced.

While the prospect of giving the green light to both Heathrow and Gatwick in some shape has gathered pace as an option in recent weeks, Grayling moved to distance himself from such a proposal.

Speaking to the transport select committee, he said: “I think right now, given how long it’s taken this decision to happen in the first place, my focus would be on doing what we should do now. Then either this government or a future government can look at what future strategy needs to be.”

Read more: Winning HS2 bidder has to develop generation of UK engineering skills

The government will take its lead from last year’s Airport Commission, which said that the government needed to address the matter of providing additional flights by 2030 and only then, look ahead to the situation beyond 2040.

The process once the decision is made is expected to be a fairly lengthy one, and the government will likely spend the next 12 months drafting a national policy statement, which will need to be approved by parliament.

“It’s very much my hope and belief that although there will undoubtedly be opposition to whatever we do, that the will of parliament, the democratic and elected parliament of our nation, is what will ultimately count,” Grayling added.

Read more: Don't make passengers foot the bill of airport expansion, says BA bos

Both Heathrow and Gatwick are expected to face legal challenges should their new runways get the go-ahead. Earlier today, Greenpeace announced it was joining forces with Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils to prepare grounds for a legal challenge against Heathrow expansion.

Grayling also noted that aviation was a key transport policy area potentially affected by Brexit – and he would be seeking to maintain the Open Skies agreement.

The EU-US agreement allows any airline of the EU and any of the US to fly between any point in the EU and the US.

Related articles