The Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies has decided to launch a fresh consultation on the issue of airport expansion in relation to air quality, it has emerged.
The decision comes in the wake a Supreme Court ruling that Britain must take significant action to clean up air quality having breached EU limits for years.
Sir Howard is expected today to tell Heathrow and Gatwick – his two shortlisted locations for runway expansion – that he will require further public input on the issue of air quality.
Both airports service Greater London, which was one of the three regions highlighted as having the worst pollution issues in the country.
However the commission has already ruled that runway expansion is needed for the country, with Heathrow already running at or close to full capacity.
Business leaders will be disappointed at the prospect of further delays, although one reason for holding the new consultation is to stave off any potential judicial reviews.
The commission is still hoping to deliver a final recommendation on the issue to the new transport secretary in June, although insiders suggest it could be difficult.
The consultation will close on 29 May.