A ministerial committee chaired by Theresa May is due to discuss plans to build a third runway at Heathrow on Tuesday morning and is expected to send then on for approval by the Cabinet, it has been reported.
The BBC said the economic sub-committee is expected to sign off the plans, with MPs asked to vote on them in the coming weeks if they are backed by the Cabinet.
However a spokesperson for the Department for Transport would only confirm that the Government ‘remains on track’ to publish a final National Policy Statement ‘in the first half of the year’ and would not provide any confirmation regarding what might happen today.
John Glen, the economic secretary to the treasury, told the BBC's Today programme: ‘It is right that the Government has looked at all the dimensions of it, all the concerns around the environmental effect, but from the perspective of UK PLC we need to expand our capacity and this is the right thing to do.’
However, plans to expand the airport are likely to be opposed by Conservative MPs both inside and outside the Cabinet, including foreign secretary and former London mayor Boris Johnson and former transport secretary Justine Greening.
Ms Greening is reported to be lobbying No 10 and Government whips for a free vote on the issue. She told the Guardian: ‘This is not a party political issue and MPs should be able to represent their local communities in the Heathrow vote.’
The MP for Putney in south west London also raised concerns over the costs of the scheme, including new transport links. She said: ‘I think a lot of MPs who are representing northern seats are also increasingly concerned about the sheer amount of taxpayers’ money that this as a project is going to consume.’
Expanding the airport was a commitment in the Conservative Party election manifesto last year, making a free vote unlikely. In its manifesto, Labour said it recognised the need for additional airport capacity in the South East but would guarantee that any airport expansion would meet four tests, mainly relating to its environmental impact.