Prime Minister Theresa May will decide where to allow new airport capacity near London this month, a long-awaited ruling that will help shape Britain's economy and trading ties following its vote to leave the European Union. Ivor Bennett reports.
There's a lot of talk of establishing new connections in post-Brexit Britain. But Theresa May knows it's a lot easier said than done. A decision on where to build more airport capacity has been delayed for 25 years because of the potential political fallout. The new Prime Minister has said she'll decide once and for all later this month. SOUNDBITE (English) JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, INDEPENDENT MARKET ANALYST, SAYING: "Having only a very very slim majority in parliament, this is a real political hot potato, even if it tends to support the domestic economy in the short-term." Already Britain's and Europe's busiest airport, Heathrow is the favoured choice of business leaders. By virtue of its links to emerging markets. But a third runway could cost up to 18 billion pounds. Another runway at Gatwick would be considerably cheaper and there's more space. But both proposals face fierce opposition with legal challenges promised whichever one gets the green light. SOUNDBITE (English) JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, INDEPENDENT MARKET ANALYST, SAYING: "Over the medium to longer term, and cognascent of the cost of so doing, I still believe that a major infrastructure project such as the creation of a Boris Island, so called, airport hub in the Thames estuary might not be a bad idea for the long term future of the UK economy." Named after the now Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, that project was dismissed as being too expensive. No such concern for China though. where some estimates suggest 60 airports will be built in the next five years, including what will be the world's largest near Beijing.