Revealed: Take-off for controversial Heathrow expansion as David Cameron faces anger of Lib Dems, London Mayor, and his own party

Two of the shortlisted options in Davies report on airports out this week favours third (and fourth?) runway

A controversial decision to expand Heathrow airport by one, or possibly, two runways, will this week spark a major political row.

The Davies report, examining solutions to the UK’s growing airport capacity crunch, will identify runway expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick airports as the best route out of the mounting crisis. But the decision, to be announced by Sir Howard Davies on Tuesday, is certain to ignite rows within the coalition government and the Tory party itself. The decision is also likely to provoke a fierce multimillion-pound legal contest with far-reaching consequences for Britain’s transport policy.

An interim report by the Davies Airport Commission is expected to select three, possibly four, choices from the 58 options he has been presented with. According to sources close to the Commission, a third runway at Heathrow will be included – in two forms, with one option to the north and another to the south of the busy airport’s current runways. Either of these could be expanded, to make Heathrow a four-runway airport. Gatwick and Stansted’s proposals for a second runway are also expected to be adopted Sources say every other idea is likely to be rejected – including London Mayor Boris Johnson’s proposals for a new airport hub in the Thames estuary.

This week’s announcement will enrage Tory backbenchers and Mr Johnson, who is vehemently opposed to Heathrow expansion, as well destabilising already shaky coalition relations.

Whitehall has moved quickly to try to defuse the situation with government advisers yesterday stressing that Sir Howard is expected to play down fears of a capacity problem, rejecting claims that British aviation is “not in a crisis” and saying that there is enough time to make a considered decision about where expansion should be.

A Whitehall source said: “He will be urging a calm and measured response and will say we need to make sure we need to get this right. This does not need to be up and running until the end of the next decade.” Yet this will be seen as a calculated move, supported by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, to put off any decisions about airports until after the next election.

The interim report’s publication will end some of the uncertainty, but Mr Johnson and some Conservative MPs are furious that they will be forced to go into the 2015 election campaign unable to say whether expansion will happen at Heathrow, Gatwick or at both.

The report directly affects London and the South-east, but will have a wider impact on the UK’s infrastructure, because plans for High Speed 2 are interlinked with aviation expansion.

The Independent on Sunday first revealed in March 2012 that George Osborne had persuaded David Cameron to get Heathrow as an option for expansion “back on the table” – despite a 2010 manifesto promise to build no new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. The move infuriated the Liberal Democrats and green Conservative MPs such as Zac Goldsmith, seeing the U-turn as a betrayal.

The interim report is expected to face several legal challenges, including one from supporters of Mr Johnson’s mega-hub plan in the Thames Estuary as well advocates who believe that Birmingham International airport is the best answer.

Sir Howard has publicly suggested it might be enough to add one more runway at Heathrow to enable it to support new long-haul routes but he has also said there is a case for a second runway at Gatwick to support further growth by low-cost carriers such as easyJet and Ryanair.

The Davies Commission will grapple with the complexities of economic need and environmental damage, evaluating social costs and benefits, for another 18 months. The coalition that commissioned the report is anxious to avoid a firm recommendation before the next election, and Labour’s position is against, but has softened recently.

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne celebrates after salvaging a point with the Southampton equaliser
footballAston Villa vs Southampton report
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible