Council leader does not expect decision on Gatwick or Heathrow expansion before 2020

Cllr Peter Lamb, leader of Crawley Borough Council SUS-140108-120547001 SUS-140108-120547001
Cllr Peter Lamb, leader of Crawley Borough Council SUS-140108-120547001 SUS-140108-120547001

A decision on airport expansion at either Heathrow or Gatwick might not be made until before 2020, Crawley’s council leader has suggested.

The Government was expected to announce whether or not it would accept the Airports Commission’s recommendation in favour of a third runway at Heathrow over a second runway at Gatwick before the end of the year.

But last weeek the Government announced it was delaying a decision until next summer.

Gatwick’s chief executive officer Stewart Wingate described it as the ‘defining moment in the expansion debate’, but anti-second runway campaigners said it created a ‘minefield of uncertainty’.

At a Crawley Borough Council meeting on Wednesday (December 16), leader Peter Lamb said he would ‘put money’ on a decision being delayed until after 2020, the likely year of the next general election, because of how ‘politically difficult’ the issue was.

He said: “I would not expect a decision between now and 2020.”

A member of the public had asked what the council was doing to highlight its opposition to a second runway as the owners of Gatwick Airport continued to lobby for expansion.

The council voted to oppose a second runway earlier this year, but Mr Lamb suggested there were better things to use council resources on rather than constantly writing to the Government.

Mr Lamb (Lab, Northgate) added: “I can tell you the Government is not going to care what the council thinks. It does not affect what they think it’s a national policy issue.”

But Bill Ward (Lab, West Green) said: “It’s a crucial time to take an interest and defend the council’s position, which is against a second runway. The debate is getting incredibly strong.”

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