Business groups have criticised the government for delaying the decision on whether to approve expansion at Heathrow airport.
Last year an independent commission backed the building of a third runway subject to “legally binding” limits on noise levels, however opponents say the restrictions would be insufficient to limit the impact on those living under the flightpath.
Ministers are also being urged to back plans for expansion at Gatwick as an alternative to the Heathrow scheme, although some campaigners oppose any airport expansion in the South East.
A final decision was expected by the end of last year but was put off until the Summer, a move Labour claimed was designed to appease Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith who had threatened to cause a by-election if Heathrow was given the go-ahead.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin now says the decision won’t be taken until at least October due to the ongoing fallout from last week’s vote to leave the European Union and the resulting resignation of David Cameron as Prime Minister.
Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says the government’s ongoing delays are damaging business and the economy.
A ComRes poll of over 500 businesses commissioned by the LCCI found that 35% backed a new runway at Heathrow with 27% preferring Gatwick and 15% saying both airports should have new runways.
Mr Stanbridge commented: “With this strong mandate of 7 in 10 London business leaders calling for expansion, It’s difficult to see how the Government can have thought today’s decision was a good idea.
“The benefit of air-links to the economy have been well documented, so every day of delay means missed opportunities to boost employment and productivity in London and the wider UK.
“Ministers need to have a quick rethink and put pen to paper and sign commencement orders to get construction underway”
Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said today’s news was “hugely disappointing”.
He added: We held a major consultation with small businesses up and down the country supporting the work of the Airports Commission.
“The final report backed our calls for regional connectivity and improved surface access. As the Commission made clear – the UK urgently needs additional aviation capacity.
“The Brexit decision makes today’s further postponement all the more frustrating. Government should be getting back to business, taking forward a major infrastructure project which would have boosted exports, jobs and growth across the UK.”
Nick Baveystock, Director General of the Institution of Civil Engineers, added: “We recognise the difficult political situation but now more than ever we need a bold, strategic decision on the country’s future hub capacity and leaders who can step up to the mark.
“We now face yet more uncertainty, and indefinite delay on an issue that is critical to the UK’s competitiveness.”