Britain needs a new cabinet minister for infrastructure before any decision is made on expanding Gatwick or Heathrow.

That was what Surrey County Council’s leader, David Hodge, told the high-level Runways UK conference in London last week.

Coun Hodge told the group of aviation experts that there was a need to invest now in road, rail, healthcare, schools and housing, if either Gatwick's or Heathrow's plans to expand are to go ahead.

He added that the Government needed to coordinate the investment and work through a single minister.

Coun Hodge, who is also deputy chairman of South East England Councils, said: “Airports are great for our economy, but we could only support expansion if infrastructure issues are adequately addressed.

“We need coordinated investment – not small pots of money from different Government departments, none of whom seem to know what the others are doing.”

He continued: “That’s why I’m calling for the appointment of a Secretary of State for infrastructure to really take charge of this important agenda.

“Government needs to be aware that failure to provide infrastructure in advance of expansion will, regrettably, only undermine the potential economic benefits.”

Both Gatwick and Heathrow lie on Surrey’s borders, and between them employ more than 13,000 of the county’s residents.