by Ray Fleming

T here are two current major worries about London's Heathrow Airport. The first is whether it will buckle under the pressure of traffic for the London Olympics and add to the growing list of UK embarrassments in international eyes. Let's hope not. The second, longer-term, worry is prompted by the government's further postponement this week of its public consultation on the south-east's airport capacity, promised a year ago by the prime minister but now pushed back to “the autumn”. Equally disappointing is that Mr Cameron has still not said whether the obvious advantages of a third runway at Heathrow will be admitted to the consultation or excluded because of pledges against it on environmental grounds in both Conservative and Liberal Democrat 2010 election manifestos.

There are, of course, alternatives to Heathrow. There is Boris Johnson's Thames estuary airport project and Lord Foster's for a site to the east of London but neither could be ready for fifteen years at the very earliest.

Meanwhile the call from business for an early decision gets louder. A letter in The Times yesterday from the Institute of Directors, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Trades Union Congress and several other organisations criticised the further delay in consultation and decision as being against Britain's international business interests. The prime minister should take hold of this issue and resolve it speedily in Heathrow's favour.


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