The Scottish Government has backed a new runway at Heathrow, while rival Gatwick is still hoping to expand regardless of any decision in favour of the West London airport.
Heathrow airport will make commitments to the Scottish Government, including investigating using Glasgow Prestwick Airport as a potential site for a logistics hub to support the building of the new runway, in a memorandum of understanding to be signed on Monday (10 October).
Gatwick still hopes to build a new runway
Scottish ministers said they had secured ‘key commitments’ from the West London airport and that its expansion offers ‘the greatest strategic and economic benefits to Scotland’, including up to 16,000 new jobs across Scotland.
Conflicting reports in the media today suggest a government decision on airport expansion, following the Airports Commission recommending Heathrow for expansion last year, could be made either this month or next year. The prime minister and transport secretary have said a decision will be made 'shortly'.
Keith Brown, Scottish cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work said that while ‘Gatwick’s proposals are also to be commended…Heathrow’s plan offers significant job creation, major investment opportunities and, crucially, seeks to address how all of Scotland’s airports benefit from the new runway capacity when it comes and also in the lead-up period’.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said that an expanded Heathrow facilitates more airlines flying routes to Scottish airports, ‘meaning more flights, more competition and choice for families and businesses across the nation’.
The Independent reported that transport secretary Chris Grayling is expected to announce a decision by 18 October at the latest, while Sky News said prime minister Theresa May has delayed announcing the Government's final decision until 2017.
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport declined to give a date. He told Transport Network that a decision would be taken ‘in due course’ while pointing out that Mr Grayling said a week ago that a decision would be announced ‘very soon’.
The Independent also reported on Sunday that Ms May is expected to overrule environmental objections to back Heathrow expansion, although Gatwick intends to build a second runway in any case.
On Monday Gatwick said its 'record-breaking September and booming long haul services’ again showed that the Airports Commission’s forecasts are flawed.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate, said: ‘Airport expansion has failed to get off the ground in the past because of insurmountable obstacles such as the air quality and noise impacts that make Heathrow undeliverable. It is time for a new solution.’
The Sunday Telegraph reported that the chairman of Ms May’s local Conservative Association, Geoffrey Hill, privately supports the local Tory-run council’s threat of a judicial review if Heathrow expansion gets the go-ahead.
In March. Windsor and Maidenhead council along with Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth warned then prime minister David Cameron that they would take legal action unless he ruled out a new runway at Heathrow.