UK transport secretary Ruth Kelly has put back a decision on whether to go ahead with plans to build a third runway at London Heathrow Airport and now expects to make a decision by the end of this year.

The UK Government – having conditionally identified a case for a third runway for Heathrow in its 2003 long-term future of air transport strategy –  last November opened a public consultation on plans to build a third runway and introduce mixed-mode operations at Heathrow.

A decision had originally been expected next month. But speaking today Kelly says the consultation generated responses from 70,000 individuals and organisations which are still being analysed by officials, while adding more time is required for an equalities impact assessment.

“Our work on analysing the consultation responses, on completing the Equalities Impact Assessment, and finalising the overall Impact Assessment will take some more time to complete,” says Kelly in a written statement today. “But I intend to inform the House [of Commons] of my decision on the future development of Heathrow airport before the end of the year.”

Source:'s sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news