Business groups have reacted angrily to the six month delay to the government's decision on whether or not to expand Heathrow or Gatwick airport.

The government had previously said it would reach a decision by the end of the year, but that is now not expected until next summer. Instead, it will await further research on the environmental impact of building a third runway at Heathrow.

Business groups are saying that a delayed decision will negatively impact the UK economy. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) described the delay as "gutless".

There are three options available to the government - a third runway at Heathrow, a second runway at Gatwick, or extending the north runway at Heathrow. But in July, a report led by Sir Howard Davies recommended a third runway at Heathrow.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the government needs to "undertake more work on environmental impacts, including air quality, noise and carbon".

John Longworth, director general at the BCC, said: "Businesses will see this as a gutless move by a government that promised a clear decision on a new runway by the end of the year.

"Ministers need to stop prevaricating and get on with doing what the country sorely needs."

Another business group, the Institute of Directors (IoD), said business leaders would be "tearing their hair out".

IoD director general Simon Walker, said: "The government has set a very ambitious target of increasing UK exports to £1 trillion a year by 2020.

"If they can't fly to emerging markets to make deals, our members are going to find it very hard to meet this aspiration."