The government has insisted that all options for airport expansion are still on the table, just two days before the cabinet will meet to make a long-awaited and much-delayed decision on whether to build at Heathrow or Gatwick.
Despite reports that the government is poised to give Heathrow the green light, Transport secretary Chris Grayling said this morning: "We haven't [taken a decision]. We've got three very good options on the table. Genuinely, it's going to be a decision on Tuesday."
The three options, currently being considered by the government are:
- A third runway at Heathrow
- An extension of one of the current runways at Heathrow
- A second runway at Gatwick
Last week, Theresa May announced government ministers would be given some (but not much) leeway to oppose whatever decision the government takes, as long as they have been long-term opponents. This was seen to be a big signal the Prime Minister was preparing to give Heathrow the green light but allow the likes of Boris Johnson to maintain their opposition against expansion in west London.
Grayling also said the idea that last week's announcement, which said that Tuesday's decision would not mean diggers-in-the-ground but rather simply a new consultation and invitation to submit a detailed planning occupations, was not a delay.
"It's a statutory process. One of the myths was that this had been delayed by a year," Grayling said. "There'll be challenge and opposition whatever decision we take."
Heathrow's chief executive John Holland-Kaye last week upped the pressure on May to pick his airport over Gatwick, saying he was confident she would make the "right decision".