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The Department for Transport has let it be know this morning that it is delaying the announcement on the future expansion (or not) of Heathrow Airport until the New Year (see BBC report here).

This has prompted shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers to accuse the Government of "dithering" in the following statement, which she has just issued:

"Gordon Brown is dithering on the future of Heathrow. He’s been saying for months that the Government would make a decision on Heathrow this year. First it was the Summer, then December, now it’s slipped again. They are in disarray on this issue, with over 50 Labour backbenchers backing a Commons motion opposing Government policy.

"Opposition to a third runway is gathering momentum every day. I suspect this postponement is an indication that Gordon Brown is finally starting to realise that he is on the wrong side of the debate on Heathrow. We need to make Heathrow better not bigger and the best way to do that is to provide a high speed rail alternative to thousands of short haul flights now contributing to the overcrowding problems at the airport."

The decision from the Government is all the more remarkable since Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon declared in the Commons as recently as 25th November that an announcement would be made "before Christmas".

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