Battle lines drawn in Heathrow expansion
fears about recession, Geoff Hoon, the transport secretary, insisted on Tuesday.
and would fall behind European rivals if a third runway were not allowed.
been made and insisted it would take place only if ministers were convinced that
strict criteria on air quality and noise levels were met.
sham". Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, said that officials’
modelling – which used "green" aircraft not yet invented – had been "reverse engineered"
to suit the government’s agenda.
government’s new target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050.
discuss the Heathrow project in the face of rising opposition.
during the next general election. More than 140 MPs, including 52 from Labour,
have signed a Commons motion urging the government to consider alter natives.
derogation from the European Commission’s air-quality directive to proceed.
about the party’s policy of scrapping the third runway in favour of fast rail
links to the north.
even if new high-speed rail services were introduced.
– threatening thousands of jobs – unless it increased its capacity. The economic
argument for Heathrow’s status as the UK’s main hub for air passengers travelling
via other airports has been frequently questioned in recent months.
to the competitiveness of a hub airport. Without them, the scale of the network
and range of destinations and the number of daily services that can be supported
on individual routes would suffer.
the Hansard record of the Heathrow debate can be found at:
testy Commons debate on the government’s plans to add a third runway at Heathrow
airport may prove an exception. If David Cameron wins power in 2010 and moves
to cancel the runway – as he claims he will – there will be plenty of by-then-ex-Labour
MPs he can quote in his defence.
on Heathrow. His plan to ease acute congestion at Britain’s hub airport by building
a high-speed rail link to the north is admirable, if implausibly optimistic. But
it would only trim Heathrow’s flight overload by 3% at best. And who would finance
soon after what critics dismiss as a public “‘con’sultation” – will have been discussed for 30 years by the time (if) it is built by 2020.
sides. The green movement, the Tories and Liberal Democrats, are joined in opposition
by the Economist magazine (whose readers must make more than the average two flights
a year) and by MPs, from left to right, whose constituents hate the noise – from
Reading across London, Essex and Kent.
flights a year, 46% up on current use, flying in and out of the ad hoc airport
over a major world city. Throw in rising fuel costs, a recession and the green
agenda and no wonder MPs are in revolt.
and Hilary Benn (who lives under the proposed flight path). It is a sign of Gordon
Brown’s weakened authority and of real concern that Britain must do more to meet
EU pollution targets.
But his side, which includes business, the City and the unions, has a strong case
alone the wider economy. But every country’s economy needs a hub which feeds and
subsidises domestic traffic. Amsterdam’s Schiphol, which already has more UK destinations
than Heathrow, is shaping up to be ours. Under pressure of congestion, Heathrow’s
global routes are down from 220 to 180. Aircraft are getting cleaner as well as
quieter, their pollution footprint shrinking. Most pollution around the airport
is caused by traffic on the M4 and M25. Voters want to fly. And so on.
at Stansted while sanctioning the coming sale of Gatwick, whose new owners would
be keen to expand there. A government will have to say no to the airport lobby
one day. But not yet. That’s always easier in opposition.
sham” the Conservatives have claimed
runway at Heathrow yesterday, with rebel MPs, including a ministerial aide and
a vice-chair of the Labour party, attending talks with Gordon Brown in Downing
is built at Heathrow Geoff Hoon the Transport Secretary told rebellious backbench
trying to control the total number of flights that are taken in order to meet
later, politicians are going to have to say no to them.”
guffawed as Mr Hoon said he would consider the choice with “complete fairness