VILLIERS THERESA NW Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers certainly believes the answer to the above question is "yes", based on this letter to yesterday's Sunday Times signed by a number of leading businessmen.

The signatories – including Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse, Justin King of Sainsbury’s, Ian Cheshire of Kingfisher and David Levin of United Business Media – insist that "many individuals in the business community do not believe that the rationale put forward for the third runway at Heathrow is sufficient to justify the Government’s recent decision".

Calling on the Government to rethink its decision, they added that the business benefits of Heathrow expansion are "unclear and unproven" and that the alternatives have not been adequately explored.

Theresa Villiers has responded to the letter by saying that  Labour’s "misleading claim" that all business is behind the Government's plans for the third runway has been "blown out of the water":

“These are serious and very senior figures in the business world and they are telling Gordon Brown he has got it wrong on Heathrow. This is further proof that Labour is increasingly isolated and that they are on the wrong side of the argument on Heathrow. Only with a Conservative Government can we be sure that a third runway will not go ahead."

But John Cridland, the deputy director-general of the CBI, maintains that the signatories to the letter are in a minority:

“What the CBI has promoted is the strong view of the majority of companies that Heathrow is vital to the London economy and needs extra capacity.”

Jonathan Isaby