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Sir Howard Davies wants the government to get on with airport expansion vote

Rebecca Smith
Heathrow says the government's announced timeline isn't a delay
Heathrow says the government's announced timeline isn't a delay (Source: Getty)

Sir Howard Davies, the chair of the Airports Commission - which made its recommendation on Heathrow over a year ago, could be forgiven for feeling a little impatient over airport expansion.

And speaking at property conference MIPIM UK, Davies said a parliamentary vote on the matter should be held without delay.

Read more: MPs threaten new delay to runway plan

"I'm very nervous about a situation which says we can't do something because people will protest," he said. "We have a democracy in this country."

Davies wants the decision put to the House of Commons as soon as possible "and not take the view that we can't build an economically rational thing in an environmentally sensible way, just because a few people will argue about it".

The government will announce its decision on whether to go ahead with expanding Heathrow or Gatwick airport next week, but Theresa May said MPs won't get to vote on the decision for at least another year.

And in an unusual move, some ministers will get the chance to speak out against the proposal (with some heavy caveats), which many have viewed as a big hint that Heathrow will get government backing. It has been strongly opposed by foreign secretary Boris Johnson and education secretary Justine Greening.

Heathrow has pointed out the prospective timeline was already anticipated - a spokesperson told City A.M. it was "the expected and appropriate political process", but others have criticised the announcement as another perceived delay.

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

London Mayor Sadiq Khan accused the government of "causing unnecessary uncertainty for British businesses already struggling with Brexit".

He added that, "Now, more than ever, businesses need certainty and stability in order to make investment decisions and to keep jobs in Britain. Instead they are getting dither and delay."

​Khan is in favour of a second runway at Gatwick, which he feels could be built quicker and cheaper than Heathrow's third runway.

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