MPs revolt over third Heathrow runway
â€¢ Figures show significant drop in flights this winter
showing a significant fall in flights this winter as cabinet ministers join a
Labour revolt against expanding the airport.
with the same period last year, according to figures obtained by the Guardian.
The reduction, equivalent to 25 fewer flights a day, was pounced on by anti-expansion
campaigners, who said it undermined one of the key arguments for a third runway:
that the airport is too congested.
aviation policy was drawn up in 2003 when aviation was expanding and the economy
was booming. We are now in a different world,” said John Stewart, chairman of
the Hacan campaign group.
of air passengers using UK airports will double to at least 460 million by 2030.
A new runway would take Heathrow’s capacity from 480,000 flights a year to 702,000.
The overall economic benefit to the UK of expansion is put at £5bn, with tens
of thousands of jobs at stake.
slots at Heathrow show that the schedule will reduce by 1.9% between October and
March next year, due to high fuel costs and dwindling passenger demand. “This
is a reflection of the high fuel prices and weakening economy leading to airlines
making tactical flight cancellations,” said James Cole, of Airport Coordination
trend. “History very clearly demonstrates that aviation recovers well from short-term
events such as this economic downturn,” said a BAA spokesman.
a third runway would damage the government’s green credentials and cost marginal
seats in the south-east. They believe ministers need to re-examine the issue in
the light of the government’s new commitment to cut carbon emissions by 80% by
2050, including emissions from aviation.
Brown to meet Labour MPs to discuss the issue last week and agree to hold a further
meeting with them this week.
whether Heathrow expansion, including a sixth terminal, should go ahead, with
ministers committed to the idea in principle since a white paper in 2003.
his strategy by at least putting the decision on hold until after a 2010 election,
possibly by proposing the government put the issue into a new national planning
statement on aviation and rail.
degrees of private support for their stance from Hilary Benn, the environment,
food and rural affairs secretary, Ed Miliband, the new energy and climate secretary,
Harriet Harman, the leader of the house, and the foreign secretary, David Miliband.
Support is also coming from ministers of state.
issue needed to be re-examined.
week, said: “This issue is coming to a head and in the past few weeks there are
signs of a change in mood. This is a vote- changing issue for the electorate,
and with the Tories and the Liberals Democrats opposed to expansion, marginal
seats will be lost unless the policy is rethought.
after the aviation white paper in 2003, and yet so much has changed since then,
including our policy on climate change.
time to look at it afresh.”
early day motion tabled by John Grogan, MP for Selby in North Yorkshire, calling
on the government to rethink the third runway and instead start a consultation
on a new national planning policy statement on airports and high-speed rail.
the south-east were at risk. “If this gets the go-ahead, the government’s increasingly
deserved green credentials will be severely damaged.”