Government says parliament's vote on Heathrow expansion will be pushed back until next year

 
Rebecca Smith
Ready for take-off?
Ready for take-off? (Source: Getty)

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has said a final airports national policy statement will go before parliament in the first half of next year - a push back from the original timeline planning it for winter 2017/18.

In an update on the development to parliament, Grayling said:

The timing of the election, in particular the need to re-start a select committee inquiry into the draft airports national policy statement means we now expect to lay any final NPS in parliament in the first half of 2018, for a vote in the House of Commons.

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There had been speculation regarding the future of Heathrow expansion in recent weeks after its omission from the Queen's speech and Conservative manifesto, but Grayling has said it was left out simply because "getting it built doesn’t require any new primary legislation". He declared Heathrow expansion critical for Britain's post-Brexit success.

Grayling reaffirmed the government's strong backing of the development, saying:

This government is fully committed to realising the benefits that a new north-west runway at Heathrow would bring, in terms of economic growth, boosting jobs and skills, strengthening domestic links and - critically - increasing and developing our international connectivity as we prepare to leave the European Union.

Heathrow meanwhile, said the national policy statement timing remained consistent with its plans.

A spokesperson for the airport said: "Our plans for an expanded Heathrow will secure Britain’s export-led future, boosting our trading links and making Britain the best connected country in the world – that’s why we are backed by the government. We’re getting on with delivering our plans, and look forward to parliament voting in support of a final NPS next year and approving the government’s decision.”

Earlier this week, business group London First warned Heathrow's third runway won't be enough to support growing demand as all of the capital's airports will be stretched near capacity by 2025.

In its new report, it has called on the government to adopt a pro-growth aviation strategy. The department for transport has said it is looking to improve transport links to help airports grow, with a commitment to the £15m Crossrail programme which will serve Heathrow, and the £6bn Thameslink upgrades set to benefit Gatwick.

Read more: More runways needed for London airports' capacity crunch, say businesses

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