Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has revealed that an expected decision from government on a third runway at Heathrow has been put back from this month to October at the earliest because of the political crisis following the EU referendum.
Whether the next prime minister regards approving a politically toxic £18.6bn project as an early priority remains to be seen, given the quantity and scale of other challenges facing them. The CBI, however, is anxious that it the issue is considered with urgency.
Its president, Paul Drechsler, who was previously chief executive of construction firm Wates Group, said: “More than ever before, it is absolutely critical that the government sends a signal, loud and clear, that the UK is open for trade with markets across the globe.
“Building a new runway in the southeast is a key decision for the long-term future of our economy and country, and will demonstrate to, and reassure, Britain’s workers, makers, exporters and investors that the UK is open for business.
“The government has announced the decision will be delayed yet again, but kicking the can down the road is already having a real effect. Last year the CBI showed that delays to getting a decision on airport expansion by 2030 could see the UK lose out on over £30 billion in lost trade with the BRIC economies alone.
“Our new analysis shows that our European rivals with spare capacity will be gaining at the UK’s expense, cashing in on their own thriving connectivity, if we fail to get on and build a new runway. By 2030, better capacity will see German trade with the BRIC economies alone grow by an additional £15 billion, and French trade grow by £7.5 billion – trade that could and should be coming here.
“We could still avoid this scenario, if the new prime minister makes a decision with a clear timetable for action immediately after entering Downing Street, so that construction can begin by 2020.”