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Tories would give blanket support to airport inquiry findings, says minister

News Monday, 22 October 2012 12:42 Written by  Steven Thompson

A Conservative Government would endorse the recommendations of a new independent inquiry into airport capacity in the UK no matter what those findings turn out to be, UK Aviation Minister Simon Burns has said.

When pressed by BBC journalist Andrew Neil at the Airport Operators Association (AOA) conference in London today (October 22) as to whether the government would accept the Davies Commission’s recommendations in full, Burns said “yes”, adding that he hoped all parties would support the inquiry's findings.

 

Burns admitted that the commission would look at all options, including a third runway at Heathrow.

 

He revealed that the make-up of the independent inquiry into runway capacity - chaired by Sir Howard Davies – would be announced "in the next few weeks”.

 

Chaired by ex-Audit Commission chair Sir Howard Davies, the committee has been tasked with finding the best solution to increasing the UK’s airport capacity while striking a balance with environmental and noise concerns. It will report its findings in 2015, when the current Coalition Government is due to come to an end.

 

The commission has proved controversial, with London Mayor Boris Johnson leading calls for the decision on new capacity in London to be made before the next election.

 

In a keynote speech to the AOA in London, the new Aviation Minister acknowledged the "vital role" the industry plays in the UK economy but said it was right that the Government was taking its time over its aviation policy, in order to "get it right".

 

He added: "Successive governments have failed to have a successful aviation policy.

 

"Britain has failed to follow Germany, France and the Netherlands in planning for its long term connectivity needs.

 

"We risk seeing our neighbours benefiting [at our expense].

 

"Maintaining our status as an international hub is fundamental to our long-term competitiveness."

 

Burns also promised members he would make representations to the Chancellor, George Osborne, over Air Passenger Duty (APD).

 

He said he would pass on the association's desire for the Government to hold an independent inquiry into the economic impact of APD.

 

Burns also said UK aviation was "not only about the South East of England".

He added: "There are so many excellent airports outside London, attracting investment and creating jobs in their regions."

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