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Following the result of the Brexit vote in the UK, London’s major airports have been scrambling to ensure that they are part of the government’s spending plans for the country once it leaves the EU.

Both Heathrow and Gatwick pitch themselves as vital to the UK’s continued access to international markets and a way to ensure that it remains, in the words of Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye, “one of the great trading nations.”

Heathrow seeks a £16 billion “privately funded infrastructure investment” that Holland-Kaye claims “will create jobs and growth across the UK.” It proposes significant expansion with a new north-west runway that would cut across the current M25.

Heathrow and Gatwick vie for investment
(Image credit: Paul Hudson)

However, Heathrow has a problem with “enormous pollution [of] both noise and air quality” which it “inflicts on hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions,” according to Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate.

By contrast, Wingate argues, at Gatwick “we have a tiny fraction of the environmental impact of Heathrow, yet you get all the same economic benefits, all of the same connections to short haul and long haul destinations, all at a cheaper price.”

The shortlisted options for expansion are a new runway at Gatwick, a third runway at Heathrow, or an extension of one of Heathrow’s existing runways. The government's Airport Commission, conducted last year, recommended the second option, but the government delayed the decision on the basis that further investigation was needed into the matters of pollution and compensation.

Heathrow and Gatwick vie for investment
(Image credit: Curt Smith)

Now, as a further setback, the government has deferred the decision until the appointment of its next leader following the resignation of the incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron, whose term of office will end in October.

As an additional potential wrench in the works, the two highest-profile Conservative party candidates in the running are Theresa May and Michael Gove, both of whom have constituencies near Heathrow and have already had to deal with noise complaints.

The delay is seen by some, including London First and Tesco chairman John Allan, as a serious setback and a sign of “a downturn in inward investment over the next few years”, jeopardising economic growth.

(Source: BBC News)

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