Sir Howard Davies, the British Government-appointed head of a commission researching the future needs of runway capacity in the south east of England has stated he wants to give the next government a “flying start” on the subject after the 2015 general election. Given two and a half years to complete his investigation, Sir Howard has promised to deliver a “really expert piece of work”.
The British Government has been criticised for delaying a decision about runway capacity until after the next election, but at last month’s Airport Operators Association meeting in London, The Rt Hon Simon Burns MP, the British Government’s Minister of State or Transport, said the Conservatives will accept Sir Howard Davies’ recommendations about runway capacity in the south east of England – whatever they might be – when the report is published if they are still in power. However, it isn’t known if his boss, the Secretary of State, agrees with Simon Burns’ statement.
Speaking to the BBC, Sir Howard said: “Politics dictate that, for reasons we all understand, the coalition has said they are not going to make this decision before the election.”
Sir Howard says that his team, which comprises Sir Howard Davies, former Chairman of the Financial Services Authority; Sir John Armitt, former Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority and former Chief Executive of Network Rail; Prof Ricky Burdett, former member of the BP Executive Management Team; Prof Dame Julia King, member of the Committee on Climate Change and Geoff Muirhead CBE, former CEO of the Manchester Airport Group, is required to issue a national airport policy statement plus detailed business cases and environmental studies.
“We do have to do all of that and I think we can do that under the aegis of the commission, so that when the new government comes into office in 2015, when they make a decision, it will have a flying start,” said Sir Howard. He added, his team’s assessment will be a “really expert piece of work looking at how we think about airport capacity, which I hope will be internationally leading-edge.
“In order to build enough political consensus around the eventual solution, we will need to show that we have done in-depth analysis of the other options. At the moment, consensus is what is lacking,” he said. After narrowing down the number of potential options the commission hopes to deliver an interim report at the end of 2013.
None of Britain’s major political parties had asked to have one of their own members within the team and, despite a highly-experienced line-up, no airline experts are included either.
The Conservatives’ current stance is that there is no need for any further runways in the south-east of England but there are signs that that may change if they win the next election.