The Times says the aviation policy consultation to be published on 12th July, but capacity consultation delayed till autumn

The Times reports that part of the aviation policy consultation will be published tomorrow but that the call for evidence on airport expansion will be delayed until September. The consultation released on 12th July will be restricted to proposals on emissions, night flights, noise levels and regional airports. Justine Greening is expected to announce, tomorrow, that the Government is ready to listen to arguments on expanding Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted, or building a new hub airport in the Thames estuary — but not yet. The delay is due to the internal political problems the coalition has on the airport issue, which it is finding hard to resolve. It is speculated that the Tory MPs keen on a 3rd Heathrow runway see the delay as evidence that the Government is coming round to accepting their case – in spite of Justine Greening’s firm opposition. 



DfT have now confirmed that they will be issuing a consultation paper on aviation, looking at regional airports, night flights, noise and emissions tomorrow. 

Aviation expansion plans grounded until autumn

by  Roland Watson,  Political Editor (The Times)

Published at 12:01AM, July 11 2012

Full article at   (££)

Some extracts:

It will now be September at the earliest — nearly a year after George Osborne announced the policy — before the Department for Transport is ready to take evidence on where to build airport capacity around the capital.

One Tory MP said that the delay was “pathetic”. It paves the way for the Government to push for more flights on Heathrow’s existing two runways. There could be up to 1,000 extra flights from Heathrow if both runways were used all day for take-offs and landings.

The Tory faction, led by Mr Osborne and supported by Mr Cameron, are engaged in a protracted about-face that is likely to result in them using the 2015 manifesto to — at the very least — leave the door open to a third Heathrow runway.

But the position of Ms Greening, who stood in Putney, southwest London, on a ticket rejecting expansion at Heathrow, is a complicating factor.The delay will raise questions about whether Mr Cameron will seek to move her in an autumn reshuffle.Some Tory MPs who support more runways at Heathrow interpreted the delay as evidence that the Government was slowly manoeuvring itself towards accepting their case.

Mr Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement last November that the Government would make maintaining a hub capacity in the South East a priority. The Treasury said that the consultation would begin in March.This was delayed after Boris Johnson made appeals to Mr Osborne amid fears that if attention were focused on his support for a new airport in the Thames estuary it could lose him support during his bid to be re-elected as Mayor of London.

Full article at (££)




Times, Opinion

A Risible Delay

The Government is poised to delay even the submission of evidence on the need for airport expansion. This is not in Britain’s interests  (££)

The last 2 paragraphs say:

So the news that the new aviation strategy outlined by the Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, consists of delaying even the submission of evidence till the autumn — almost a year since the process was announced — is not so much unwelcome as risible. It looks very much as though the Government is desperate to escape being forced to the inevitable conclusion that its manifesto commitment was wrong for the country and that it needs to be changed.

It does not help that in Ms Greening Mr Cameron appointed a Transport Secretary with a vested local interest in resisting airport expansion. Or that he is tied to partners with a similar commitment to hers. But this — as was the case with fees — is about what is good for Britain. That is the Prime Minister’s most important constituency.