Tomorrow is the last day for proposals on London's future airport capacity to be submitted to the Davies Commission appointed by David Cameron. The Commission will review the proposals next year and prepare recommendations for a decision after the 2015 General Election.
The Labour government approved plans for a third runway at Heathrow but at the 2010 election the Conservative pledged to rethink the issue; they are now hoisted by that petard and Britain's urgent need for a London hub airport has been put back by at least five years.
In proposals published so far: Heathrow offers the choice of three new runway sites (one similar to the Labour government plan); the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, supports a completely new airport on either Thames Estuary/Isle of Grain sites; Gatwick Airport suggests its own expansion linked with Heathrow and Stanstead. Both Heathrow and Boris Johnson have predicted completion by 2029 but Heathrow has challenged the Mayor's estimate since both his projects would need a new town the size of Milton Keynes built for support staff and services. By contrast the three Heathrow plans would respectively require the demolition of two different villages or the loss of one thousand houses.
While urging the Commission to build on the strength of Heathrow its chief executive said yesterday that the government will have to choose taking into account noise, housing and economic factors. And cost?