Britain needs a new Cabinet minister for infrastructure before any decision is made on expanding Heathrow or Gatwick, Surrey County Council’s leader said yesterday.
David Hodge told a group of aviation experts that there was a need to invest now in road, rail, healthcare, schools and housing if either airport’s plans are to go ahead, and that Government needed to coordinate this work through a single minister.
Mr Hodge said: “Airports are great for our economy, but we could only support expansion if infrastructure issues are adequately addressed.
“We need coordinated investment – not small pots of money from different Government departments, none of whom seem to know what the others are doing.
“That’s why I’m calling for the appointment of a Secretary of State for infrastructure to really take charge of this important agenda.”
He added: “Government needs to be aware that failure to provide infrastructure in advance of expansion will, regrettably, only undermine the potential economic benefits.”
Both airports lie on Surrey’s borders, and between them employ more than 13,000 of the county’s residents.
Mr Hodge, who is also deputy chairman of South East England Councils, was speaking to the Runways UK conference in London.