The lobby groups have lobbied, the Davies Commission has deliberated, a recommendation has been made and a decision to proceed taken by the Government. All of those things are true except the last one. It had been expected that a ruling on whether to go ahead with the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport would be taken this month. That is no longer going to happen after the Government announced that the decision would be put back to next summer to allow for further work on the environmental impact. Air quality and pollution remain real concerns.
Business types reacted with disappointment to the news whilst environmentalists and residents were broadly positive. For many, whichever side of the Heathrow debate they sit on, it just means more months of uncertainty and a chance for yet more lobbying.
The news also means the decision will take place after May’s elections for London Mayor in which the staunch anti-expansionist Mr Zac Goldsmith MP is the Conservative candidate. A funny co-incidence if there ever was one. David “no ifs, no buts” Cameron is caught in a tricky spot when it comes to biting the bullet on the third runway decision. The business lobby is campaigning hard for it but many influential London MPs and their constituents are vehemently opposed. The deferral could be regarded as giving a glimmer of light for the opposition groups although on the face of it, it feels much more like a convenient political fudge. And we haven’t even got near the judicial reviews yet. This one could run and run.