BAA are reported to have agreed not to submit a planning application for the third runway prior to the next General Election, but BAA say they are still working actively on the project.
The Sunday Times reports that BAA will not submit a planning application before the general election and will not sign large contracts to bounce a possible Conservative government into accepting it. It says that senior BAA figures have told the Tories BAA will cease to fight for the third runway if they win the election.
Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, told the Times: Last week BAA conveyed to us at our party conference that it will not be submitting a planning application before the election. It seems BAA has woken up to the fact that we mean what we say on Heathrow and that if we win the general election there will be no third runway.
BAA didn’t exactly confirm the report, indeed they maintain they are still woring on the application – a BAA spokesperson told Place West London: “We remain convinced that a third runway is the only viable, costed and thought through way of meeting the need for extra runway capacity to maintain this country’s global connections to the rest of the world, particularly in an era where long haul links to markets such as China and India are increasingly important.”
They continued: “the process of putting in a planning application is complex, particularly given the new planning structure put in place as recently as October 1st. The process was always going to take until after the general election. We continue to work on the application and will take as long as is necessary to prepare a proper submission.”
Edward Lister of the 2M Group of local authorities agrees the issue is far from settled – “Weve been battling too long with the industry and the Transport Department to rest now. We will be on the alert for any hint of expansion”.
Interestingly, this could make the runway an election issue, with Tories and Labour diametrically opposed on the issue. The debate about the merits and demerits of R3 will continue.
Indeed, there is a session about the business impact of the R3 decision at the Place West London conferenceon Tuesday October 13, featuring speakers from BCC, the British Chambers of Commerce, HACAN and the New Economics Foundation.