"Get a grip": Business leaders slam Cameron’s “disastrous” delay over Heathrow expansion

UK businesses say delay to third runway decision is “damaging our economic competitiveness”

A letter signed by 50 business leaders has described the government’s latest delay to coming to a decision on expansion at Heathrow as “regrettable” and “damaging”.

The signatories to the letter which will be published this week include: Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP Group, Chris Grigg, boss of British Land, and Martin Gilbert of Aberdeen Asset Management 

The government originally said it would respond to the Airports Commission by the end of the year, however, David Cameron has now said that a decision would be made before the summer.

In pushing the date back, the government cited the need for further investigation into the environmental impacts and air pollution increase the new runway would bring about.

However, the government’s sudden environmental concern is deeply unconvincing, and the move is widely understood to be related to Zac Goldsmith’s bid for City Hall.

Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park – an area near Heathrow – has threatened to resign from the House of Commons if Cameron supports the construction of a third runway.

The letter warns that that every period of delay is “damaging our economic competitiveness”, and calls on David Cameron to “get a grip”.

It says: “The Airports Commission has already spent three years and millions of taxpayers’ money examining the evidence. It was established so that a difficult decision, fundamental to our long-term prosperity, could be made without being bogged down by politics. Its clear recommendation was to build a new runway at Heathrow. We remain fully supportive of the Commission’s work and its recommendation and believe the government should listen to the experts it appointed and just get on with this vital upgrade to our national infrastructure.

“Every further period of delay is costing the UK economy billions in lost trade and investment and damaging our economic competitiveness. The message this sends out to global investors is equally disastrous.

“We urge the government to get a grip on the decision to build a new runway by committing to announce a clear and final decision by no later than the end of May 2016.”

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