[Financial Times] David Cameron has paved the way for a U-turn on building a third runway at  Heathrow airport, amid signs that Downing Street is cooling to the idea of  building a new  hub in the Thames Estuary.

Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne were initially attracted to the idea of building a  hub airport with four runways in the Thames estuary

Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne were initially attracted to the idea of building a hub airport with four runways in the Thames estuary. Photo: Wikipedia

Mr Cameron left open the prospect that the Conservatives would campaign at the  2015 election in favour of expanding Heathrow – a move that would please the  business lobby but infuriate environmentalists and Londoners living under the  flight path.

Although the coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats excludes building  another runway at Heathrow, the prime minister believes there is an urgent need  to develop London’s air links with emerging markets.

Questioned in the Commons, Mr Cameron refused to rule out a change of heart.  While restating the coalition’s position, he said: “We must not be blind to two  important considerations: how we expand airport capacity overall and how we  ensure Heathrow operates better.”

Government insiders confirmed that both Mr Cameron and George Osborne, the  chancellor, had an open mind on expanding Heathrow, although any change of  policy would not come before the election.

Zac Goldsmith, the environmentalist and Tory MP for Richmond Park, said that  up to 2m people living under the flight path – including his constituents – would resist a new runway, adding: “I could not stand on a Conservative platform  that included an expansion of Heathrow.”

Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne were initially attracted to the idea of building a  hub airport with four runways in the Thames estuary. But their enthusiasm has  waned as details have emerged on…..

Read the full story at the Financial Times


George Parker and Andrew Parker
14th June, 2012

Additional reporting by James Pickford and Jim Pickard


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