What's Happening with The Heathrow Expansion?
It was on front pages everywhere. The Piccadilly Line was covered with pro-Heathrow and pro-Gatwick propaganda. A decision was soon to be made. And then…
…Nothing. It fell off the news cycle and nothing happened. No decision has been made about how to expand London's airport capacity and the city still desperately needs another runway.
So what is the next move in the increasingly protracted and confused plans to expand Heathrow?
The Original Plan
The first plan, published in 2007, was to build a third runway and extra terminal at Heathrow in order to cope with rising air traffic into London. This was originally a Labour government move, opposed by the Lib Dems and Conservatives. Importantly, London Mayor Boris Johnson also opposed the plan.
After Labour lost power, the coalition predictably shelved the plan, but the need to expand capacity remained. The Airport Commission was asked to report on how best to meet the city's needs. But in July last year they reported that Heathrow was the best option. This is around the time the PR war between pro-Heathrow and pro-Gatwick expansion supporters erupted.
Kicked into The Long Grass
This brings us up to now.
Realising the airports decision was a political hot potato, and that there is a London Mayoral Election on the horizon, at the end of 2015, David Cameron announced that the decision would be put off until summer 2016.
This decision has drawn fire from economists, politicians and the UK's air industry. How the result from May's Mayoral Election affects the decision is unknown. Labour's Sadiq Khan is against a new runway at Heathrow, but it is not known whether he would back a Gatwick expansion.
Khan's rival, the Conservative Zac Goldsmith is expected to tow the party line and follow Cameron's famous pre-election pledge of no ifs, no buts, no third runway. Despite being a famous party rebel who has already led campaigns against a third runway, so it seems this is something the two candidates agree on.
Westminster, not 30 St. Mary Axe, ultimately holds the power to decide, but the mayor will be influential in the decision. Stay tuned for more political football on this issue after the election and EU referendum.