Downing St hits back on airports
Downing Street has defended the review into airport capacity after Boris Johnson attacked what he called the "inertia" of the Government's aviation policy.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the report by Sir Howard Davies was needed to challenge "entrenched views" that have been put forward "without the evidence".
"People have entrenched views, often these different options and these different ideas of how we should approach the issue of aviation capacity are put forward without the evidence," he said.
"We think the discussions around the options have been too narrow. The purpose of Howard Davies' work is to inform the evidence base."
Referring to the 2015 timetable for the final report, No. 10 added: "We need to have a proper debate. It's going to take some time and work to provide that evidence base."
The Mayor of London told the Today programme he would not necessarily accept the findings of Sir Howard's commission, claiming there was "every possibility" the Government would bow to "pressure from business" over the expansion of Heathrow.
"Can I tell you, in the next nine years, how many runways they’re going to build in China? They’re going to build 52. How many in the UK? None at all. It is a policy of utter inertia," he said.
But he later appeared to backtrack, telling BBC News it was "very good news that the Government has changed their position" and welcoming the Sir Howard's "open-minded" approach to the issue.
On Today, Mr Johnson warned it would be politically "toxic and disastrous" if the Government did not scrap plans for a third runway at Heathrow before the 2015 general election.
But Sir Howard defended his review this morning, saying it would do "a lot of the preparatory work", to allow whichever government comes into office after the 2015 election to "have a flying start".
“I have reflected quite hard on the criticisms about long-grass that the Mayor of London and Michael Heseltine say, that this is booted into the long-grass. So I decided politics dictate that for reasons we all understand.
"The Coalition have said they won’t make this decision before the election. So how can you make best use of your time in the long-grass? What I think we can do is to do a lot of the preparatory work," he told the Today programme.