Expansion will ease the constraints on economic growth caused by the airport operating at capacity and will give a boost to trade, investment and economic growth.

David Hawes (pictured), Thames Valley regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “There must not be any further excuses or delays. To do so is to put the UK’s long-term economic health at risk.”

London Luton Airport chief executive Nick Barton added: “Now the politicians must deliver.”

Luton-based airline easyJet has said it will open a base at Heathrow should the expansion happen, bringing lower fares and increased competition.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “Expansion at Heathrow will bring significant benefits to all parts of the UK.”

Mr Hawes welcomed the report’s suggestions to ensure benefits of airport expansion are felt across the UK.

He said: “The business and wider economic case for Heathrow proved decisive. The tremendous benefits in terms of growth and jobs are clear.”

He also welcomed safeguards intended to minimise the environmental impact around Heathrow of expansion.

“Although this option could present greater political challenges, ministers must not use this as an excuse for inaction. We cannot continue to delay big decisions on national infrastructure.

"New roads, broadband infrastructure, and improved regional and national transport links are vital to our future economic growth and wellbeing. A longer-term transport strategy, which takes all modes of transport into account, is required to deliver this.”

London Luton has begun its £100 million programme to increase capacity from 12 million passengers to 18 million by 2026.

But even with a third runway at Heathrow, demand is likely to outstrip capacity, says the Department of Transport.

Mr Barton said: “That means we need to realise the full potential of the runways we already have. London’s airport system needs to grow and thrive in the meantime.” 

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