Heathrow expansion set for approval 'barring last-minute wobble'

Reports that an announcement is expected tomorrow on airport expansion in the South East, with a third runway at Heathrow likely to be selected 'barring a last-minute wobble'', feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The government will finally reveal whether Heathrow or Gatwick will expand tomorrow after a crunch cabinet meeting, the Guardian reports. According to the newspaper, transport secretary Chris Grayling said that the government had yet to choose an option and would make its decision on the day, despite reports that the government has already opted for Heathrow rather than its rival, Gatwick. He is then expected to announce the choice to the House of Commons, according to the newspaper. 

The Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to approve a third runway at Heathrow "barring a last-minute wobble", The Times (subscription required) reports. According to the newspaper, Julian Glover, an adviser to the former transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, said that air quality fears were "not a fundamental reason" to block Heathrow expansion, despite claims from critics that it would render the scheme illegal.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Sir Howard Davies, the man appointed by the government to review airport capacity, says that the case for expanding Heathrow was now "overwhelming" and had "strengthened in recent months" post-Brexit. Davies warns that it would be "a mistake" to expand both Heathrow and Gatwick airports, adding: "Allowing two proposals to continue could mean neither is built, as it would be impossible to argue that both runways could be fully used in the next 20 years while meeting our legislated climate change commitments."

Also writing in the Daily Telegraph, Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general and Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, argue that building a new runway in the South East "is a singularly critical decision for the long-term future of our economy and country". They write: "For a start, it will send a clear message to the country, the world and global investors - who are watching the moves we make with a hawkish eye - that the UK is well and truly open for business."

Bosses at Luton airport are pushing for a dedicated fast train between central London and Luton Airport Parkway station 25 miles to the north, The Times reports. According to the newspaper, it is claimed that four trains an hour could be introduced out of London St Pancras - with no need for additional infrastructure - to cut the journey time to less than 30 minutes.

Ministers have been told that "trendy shared space schemes that attempt to declutter streets by stripping out kerbs, road markings and traffic signs" are causing "chaos and catastrophe", The Times (subscription required) reports. According to the newspaper, the system, "adopted by town planners across Britain", has created a "traffic free-for-all" in busy shopping areas, putting pedestrians and cyclists at risk. The newspaper reports that the Conservative peer Lord Holmes of Richmond said that at least 14 local councils have scrapped shared space schemes by reintroducing zebra crossings and segregated cycle lanes.

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