Campaign groups have today piled pressure on the Government to act on the findings of the Davies Commission report, declaring any further delay “inexcusable” and urging David Cameron to “hit the ground running”.
As well as this, environmental organisations have warned of the potential impact of any decision, urging decision makers to prioritise the natural environment.
The Commission – chaired by Sir Howard Davies - concluded that a third runway at Heathrow would deliver the greatest economic benefits, and is the preferred option for expanding UK aviation capacity.
Responding to the news in the Commons this afternoon, the Prime Minister said the Government was not yet in a position to comment on the decision but would declare its stance by the end of the year.
However, senior figures in the sector have urged Mr Cameron to back the Commission’s conclusions and act swiftly to implement the measures.
Gavin Hayes, Director of Let Britain Fly, said: “After the best part of three years rigorously examining all of the evidence the view of the Airports Commission is that Britain needs a new runway and that the best option is to expand Heathrow. It’s now time for the Government to hit the ground running and quickly give the greenlight to airport expansion.
“With Heathrow, our only international hub airport, already full for a decade and all of London’s other airports forecast to be full within the next ten years, there is no alternative but to now get on with it. As this report shows there’s no runway left for the can to be kicked along.
“First and foremost it’s now time UK political leaders put the long-term national interest, over short-term political needs.”
Echoing his remarks, Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said: “With half a century of indecision on airports expansion behind us, it’s time for the government to implement the Commission’s recommendation and get on with a new runway at Heathrow. Anything else is now inexcusable.
“After three years of investigation, the Commission has unambiguously concluded that expanding Heathrow will boost the UK economy and reinforce London as a global hub for business. Yes, Sir Howard’s report shows there are obstacles – particularly noise and environmental – but he has also demonstrated that these can and should be overcome.
“The report gives the Government an up-to-date, comprehensive, and independent analysis of our runway needs.”
Offering an alternative view on the issue, the Woodland Trust responded by calling for greater recognition of the environmental implications of any decision.
Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust Chief Executive, said: “Regardless of today's recommendation, what must be recognised is that ‘environmental impact’ should not only be used, as has consistently been the case as part of the expansion debate, as a term to refer to noise and vibration in relation to people and their homes, with damage to the natural environment seemingly just a secondary complication. Any risk of loss or damage to the natural environment, and especially to irreplaceable habitats like ancient woodland or ancient trees, must be taken just as seriously, and every possible avenue investigated to avoid it if we are to adapt to threats such as climate change, and so that communities can exercise their right to a healthy lifestyle.
“In alignment with its manifesto commitment to deliver new infrastructure in an environmentally sensitive way, Government must now not only seek to avoid loss, but also to integrate new trees and woods into any development plans if expansion goes ahead as recommended by the Airports Commission today, remembering that this is not just about the footprint of a new runway, but all the surrounding development likely to be required that will add more strain on the UK’s natural environment in the long term.”