London: Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of the government supporting a third runway at London's Heathrow airport, one of the busiest air hubs in the world.
    
Clegg said ministers would stick to the agreement struck when the coalition government was formed two years ago, which ruled out expansion of the severely congested airport.
    
He was responding after a senior member of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party questioned whether he had the character to take the politically explosive decision to give the green light for a third runway.
    
Tim Yeo, a former minister, goaded Cameron by asking whether he was "man or mouse" and said the move would give the government a "sense of mission".
    
But Clegg, who leads the Liberal Democrat coalition partners, said: "We're not going to give the go-ahead to the third runway at Heathrow because we said very clearly as both parties that we wouldn't do so, so we're going to stick to the coalition agreement.
    
"But that doesn't mean we're going to stick our heads in the sand over the aviation debate about capacity in this country, and how do we make sure we have those proper connections to economies in Asia and Latin America, which are important to our own prosperity.
    
"We'll make sure we look at that," he added, "but there are lots of ways of doing that and we shouldn't just lurch to one solution because one individual MP was to say so."
    
London Mayor Boris Johnson argues that Heathrow's inability to expand is hampering business in the capital.
    
Johnson backs the construction of a brand new airport in the River Thames estuary, a proposal dubbed "Boris Island".
    
Heathrow handles more than 180,000 passengers a day, making it the world's busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic.

(Agencies)

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