London / Bloomberg
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne must do more to back up the economic case for expanding Heathrow Airport, the chairman of Parliament’s Treasury Committee said.
Lawmaker Andrew Tyrie wrote to Osborne for a second time after what he described as the chancellor’s “curious” explanation for stonewalling questions included in a January 25 letter. Osborne’s reply, e-mailed by Tyrie’s office, declined to answer the queries, saying it would “clearly not be appropriate or helpful” to provide a “running public commentary.”
“It is essential that the process for reaching a decision on airport capacity in the South East is robust,” Tyrie wrote. “It is equally essential that the process is transparent: the government cannot be seen to have left significant questions regarding the economic case unanswered before announcing its final decisions.”
The government in December delayed a decision on airport expansion, arguing that further environmental studies that will take until the summer to complete were required. A government- appointed commission led by Howard Davies had concluded in July that adding a runway at Heathrow offered the best solution to the looming capacity crisis, rather than rival plans to extend one of Heathrow’s runways or build a new landing strip at Gatwick. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said all three proposals remain under consideration.
Tyrie’s questions center on a data table in Davies’s final report setting out the costs and benefits of the three airport expansion plans. He requested that the table be replicated for different scenarios of growth and also for different time frames.