London - Britain's shock EU exit referendum has forced the government to delay a decision on airports expansion until October, it said Thursday.
Prime Minister David Cameron had been set to make a decision on where to expand airport capacity in south-east England in the coming weeks. However, Cameron resigned last Friday after he failed to persuade Britons to vote in favour of remaining in the European Union in a crunch June 23 referendum.
The premier will step down later this year and a new leader will be appointed by October.
"I had hoped that we would be able to announce a decision on airport capacity this summer," Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the House of Commons, parliament's lower chamber.
"Clearly any announcement on airport capacity would have to be made when the House is in session and being realistic, given recent events, I cannot now foresee an announcement until at least October."
Back in July 2015, a government-appointed commission recommended that Britain should build a third runway at London Heathrow airport to ease congestion.
The runway would cost 17.6 billion pounds (R343.9 billion at R14.64/$), but would generate up to 147 billion (R2.9 trillion) over 60 years and create more than 70 000 jobs by 2050, the Davies commission's report had concluded.
The report also added that a rival bid for a second runway at Gatwick airport was also "plausible."
Last December, however, the Department for Transport announced that further investigation into noise, pollution and compensation would be carried out before a decision was made.
Britain's business community voiced concern over the new delay on Thursday.
"Businesses will see the latest delay to the runway decision as a cop out," said Adam Marshall, acting director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce. "It means a longer wait for connectivity to global markets for our exporters, and less work for suppliers who are keen for business. The government should reconsider swiftly, make a tough decision on a new runway, and look to support our aviation sector as a whole."
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