by Ray Fleming

I s there any chance that a decision about London's urgent airport needs can be made soon? Most preferences of those directly involved -- the business community, for instance -- favour a third runway at Heathrow but that solution is blocked by the Conservative party's undertaking at the last general election not to develop Heathrow. That was a purely political move because of the number of London constituencies affected by noise and congestion caused by Heathrow. It may have secured some seats for Mr Cameron but the country is paying a high price for Heathrow's current shortcomings as a major hub airport.

The case for an early extension of Heathrow was boosted yesterday by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee which said that a third runway there was “long overdue” and that the alternative of a completely new Thames estuary airport proposed by Boris Johnson as Mayor of London was not financially practical. Mr Johnson immediately said that expanding Heathrow was “environmentally and politically undeliverable”.

A government inquiry on this issue is not due to make recommendations until 2015 but will make an interim report later this year. The bottom line is that Britain lacks a hub airport of the kind found elsewhere in Europe and cannot afford another decade of uncertainty about Heathrow's future.

Mr Cameron has already broken a lot of election promises; he should add Heathrow's development to the list.