Transport secretary Chris Grayling is this week expected to signal fresh appetite for expansion at the UK's regional airports as well as in the south east.
A special cabinet committee headed by Prime Minister Theresa May meets tomorrow to decide whether Gatwick or Heathrow should be expanded to give the south east more airport capacity. Grayling will announce the verdict later in the week.
Heathrow is the favourite to get the green light, but Whitehall sources say Grayling will stress the desire for further projects beyond the west London site.
He is expected to note the government's appetite for new runways outside of London, in a move that will provide encouragement to airports in Birmingham, Manchester and further afield.
One source described the transport secretary's expected statement as likely to be “Go for it Heathrow, keep working Gatwick and start drafting Birmingham”, although Grayling is not expected to cite the West Midlands city directly.
The move tallies with May's desire to foster economic development beyond London and the south east through projects such as the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse.
Officials at Birmingham are known to be drafting airport expansion plans. Earlier this month, a spokeswoman for the airport told City A.M. that specific proposals were under development but not yet being publicly disclosed.
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A Department for Transport spokesman said yesterday: “The case for aviation expansion is clear – but it’s vitally important we get the decision right so that it will benefit generations to come.
“As well as progressing the package of further work announced previously, the government will continue to consider the [Davies] Commission’s evidence before reaching a view on its preferred scheme this week.”
Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Grayling stressed that no verdict had yet been reached on whether to back Heathrow or Gatwick.
Three options remain on the table including a new runway at either site, or an extension of the northern runway at Heathrow.
On the Andrew Marr show, Grayling said: "We've got three very good options on the table. Genuinely, it's going to be a decision on Tuesday."
And the transport secretary also denied that plans for MPs to have a final vote on the plan in winter 2017/18 represented a delay to the project.
"It's a statutory process. One of the myths was that this had been delayed by a year," he said. "There'll be challenge and opposition whatever decision we take."
It comes as reports suggested that residents near Heathrow are in line for “world class” compensation packages.