At the moment, the Tories intend to head into the next election with the worst of all airport policies. They won’t have announced where the much-needed extra runway capacity in the south east will be. But neither will they be ruling out extra runways at various existing airports or an entirely new airport. The risk for the Tories is that voters under the Heathrow flight path assume that they are going to build a third runway there. Meanwhile those close to Stansted fear that it is going to be turned into a four-runway airport.
Seventeen Tory MPs in the south east have now written to David Cameron protesting about the policy not to have a policy. The Evening Standard reports that these MPs, which includes opponents of Heathrow expansion such as Zac Goldsmith and proponents of it such as Tim Yeo, have told the PM that the current uncertainty is a ‘severe handicap on Conservative candidates’ in the potentially affected areas.
I suspect that the Tory leadership will be forced to make its mind up before the next election on what it wants to do on airports; if it doesn’t, it’ll have all the pain and none of the gain. They’ll be helped in this by the fact that the Davies Commission is expected to set out its favoured options in the near future.