Surrey County Council has said it has received a “crucial” boost over Heathrow and Gatwick expansion after the Government’s decision-making body said it would look at infrastructure first.
The council said the boost had followed its leader, David Hodge's, speech to aviation experts two weeks ago, in which he stressed infrastructure must come before any airport expansion. The council said that last week, the Davies Commission, appointed by the Government to look at airport expansion, confirmed to South-east politicians that it will consult local communities later this year.
The consultation, which is due to launch in the autumn and last three months, will ask councils, business groups and residents for feedback on infrastructure such as roads, rail, housing, healthcare and schools.
Coun Hodge said: “Heathrow and Gatwick employ around 13,000 Surrey residents and are key to the county’s £32 billion economy - but these airports mustn’t expand without major infrastructure investment.”
Coun Hodge said: “As things are, we’re already delivering Surrey’s biggest-ever schools expansion and face spiralling demand for elderly care, so I’m pleased the Davies Commission agrees with me that Government must consider infrastructure needs first, before expanding airports.”
Last week's meeting, hosted by West Sussex County Council, involved the Davies Commission and senior politicians from local authorities in the South-east, including Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for highways, John Furey.
In his speech to the Runways UK group last month, Coun Hodge also called for the Government to create a cabinet post to take charge of infrastructure.
The commission, which is headed by Sir Howard Davies, will submit its final recommendations to the Government in summer 2015.