Transport secretary Justine Greening has called for an end to the "pub-style debate" regarding airport expansion in the south.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Ms Greening was bullish about the need to have a proper debate on the issue and not rush into making a "piecemeal" decision.
There is currently growing speculation that senior Conservatives are leaning towards adding a third runway at Heathrow airport, while London mayor Boris Johnson has expressed his preference for a new hub in the Thames Estuary, dubbed 'Boris Island'.
However, the transport secretary refused to be drawn on the issue.
"I don't think any of the facts have changed in relation to the arguments for or against a third runway," she stated.
"The impact on people, on congestion, on air pollution are all still there."
She added that the government needs to consider the UK's needs well beyond the next ten to 15 years.
"My job is to say 'what do we need for the next 20, 30, 40 or 50 years?' What if we realise we need a fourth runway? Where would that go at Heathrow?"
Author: Editor Gavin Pearson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 202 0255)