The Times includes a report this morning of a "secret" plan for a second runway at Gatwick airport.

It would apparently have a lesser impact on local residents than the potential third runway at Heathrow in terms of noise and the need to demolish homes.

Earlier in the month the Government postponed an announcement of its decision over what to do at Heathrow until the New Year, prompting accusations that it was planning to bow to increasing Labour backbench opposition to the expansion.

The Conservatives have been opposing that expansion at Heathrow too, although individual MPs have dissented from that view to back it, such as David Wilshire.

But if the Government is thinking that it might be able to achieve a consensus on expanding Gatwick instead, it is wrong, as least as far as trying to garnber Conservative support.

Shadow transport secretary has just issued the following statement:

“Conservatives are opposed to another runway at Gatwick. We have consistently opposed a predict-and-provide approach to airport capacity. We believe that a combination of high speed rail, selective regional expansion and more competition between airport operators offers a much more environmentally-friendly way to improve the nation’s airports. This proposal would put a serious strain on Sussex’s infrastructure. Furthermore the proposed schedule is a clear breach of the spirit of the original agreement.”

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