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Ministers against new runway given freedom to speak against chosen airport

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The Prime Minister's official spokeswoman said today: 'The Government is very clear on the importance of making a decision and the need there is to address problems around airport capacity and the huge potential economically.

"Although Heathrow is in London, it is the UK's hub airport", they say.

Airlines and business groups favour expansion of Heathrow, which offers far more direct connections than Gatwick and handles much more freight.

But Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald told The Guardian the "imperative was overwhelming" for more capacity, implying he would back a Heathrow expansion over a new runway at Gatwick Airport.

A special Cabinet committee set up to make a final recommendation is now not expected to meet until next week, pushing the decision close to its deadline of October 31.

The government-created Airports Commission recommended more than a year ago that the best solution for the wider United Kingdom economy would be a third runway at London Heathrow.

Her plan means that ministers such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening will be able publicly to restate their concerns about the impact a bigger, busier Heathrow will have on people in west London.

"It is welcome news that a decision on expanding London airports will be made next week as is the speculation that there will be a go-ahead for the Heathrow expansion".

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"Clearly it is an important decision to get right so that future generations can benefit".

The other option on the table is to build a second runway at Gatwick.

A decision on Heathrow had already been delayed until after the 2015 election when Cameron appointed the Airports Commission led by former Financial Services Authority Chairman Howard Davies.

Heathrow airport delined to comment and Gatwick airport could not be immediately reached for comment.

Senior MPs are said to have told her that any attempt to allow a new runway would run up against determined opposition, including legal challenges that could extend the process for "decades".

Unite London and Eastern regional secretary Peter Kavanagh said: "Coming so soon after the Brexit vote and the dithering over Hinkley, it is a decision that will signal just how serious Theresa May and her government is about turning her rhetoric on industrial strategy and infrastructure investment into reality".

The Greenpeace UK executive director, John Sauven, said: "A third runway at Heathrow would be an air pollution and carbon timebomb".

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