London Mayoral candidate, Siobhan Benita, candidate pressing for 3rd Heathrow runway (with Michael Portillo’s backing)
Siobhan Benita is the only mayoral candidate to be pressing for a 3rd Heathrow runway. She says “We will scrap the £60bn Boris Island vanity project and instead support the expansion of Heathrow airport, while maintaining strict limits on sound and emissions” and “I absolutely understand that people are worried about noise levels and I would call on the aviation industry to produce a 10-year roadmap for aircraft noise reduction. With quieter and cleaner aircraft becoming more commonplace, the industry can do much more to reduce noise and emission levels in the coming years” Michael Portillo gives her his backing. He thinks a third runway for Heathrow airport is fundamentally important for the capital and “I can’t understand any candidate presenting himself or herself without making such a commitment”.
From Siobhan Benita’s policy website:
“For the whole of the UK, London is the goose that lays golden eggs. We contribute £20bn to the UK economy because this is one of the best places in the world to do business. London’s future depends upon long-term investment to keep its economy strong, including supporting infrastructure projects like Crossrail 2 and 3. We will scrap the £60bn Boris Island vanity project and instead support the expansion of Heathrow Airport, while maintaining strict limits on sound and emissions. This will deliver an extra 60,000 jobs in London without the need for any additional public money.”
Page 10 of her “London Manifesto. Creating jobs and boosting economic growth”
This says (lifted straight from aviation industry lobbying!):
Promoting a third runway at Heathrow
Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport, handling over 65 million passenger trips every year. It is the UK’s most important gateway, to the rest of the world and to the global economy. We are stuck with its location whether we like it or not.
Demand for air travel is increasing and Heathrow’s existing runways are almost at full capacity. More can – and should – be done to increase capacity by making better use of other airports across the UK and ensuring that we are using Heathrow in the most efficient way.
That alone, however, will not be enough to meet future demand. A global city like London needs a global hub airport. A recent study by the British Chamber of Commerce found the following:
• 67% of business leaders in Brazil, China, India, South Korea, and Mexico say that better air connections from their home country to France, Germany and The Netherlands mean they are more likely to do business with those countries rather than the UK
• 92% say direct flights are important to inward investment decisions
• 62% say they will only invest in the UK if flight connections are improved
Even if it were feasible, Boris Johnson’s proposal for a completely new airport in the Thames Estuary would take at least 25 years to complete (by which time the UK will have lost out on new trade and investment) and sound the death knell for Heathrow.
This would have a devastating impact on the economy of West London. Heathrow supports 136,600 jobs directly and indirectly, and accounts for a contribution of some £7bn to the capital’s economy.
Hounslow council alone states that as many as 20% of the borough’s jobs depend on the airport.
I absolutely understand that people are worried about noise levels and I would call on the aviation industry to produce a 10-year roadmap for aircraft noise reduction. With quieter and cleaner aircraft becoming more commonplace, the industry can do much more to reduce noise and emission levels in the coming years.
The Coalition Government does not have a clear aviation strategy and this is already having a detrimental effect on economic growth, with investors from emerging markets choosing European cities with better flight connections.
This situation needs to change. When I am Mayor I will call for the expansion of Heathrow because I believe it to be the best way of meeting our challenge of increasing UK airport capacity.
Michael Portillo not backing Boris Johnson for London mayor
Former Tory minister states he will instead support independent candidate Siobhan Benita over issue of Heathrow third runway
Michael Portillo, the former Tory cabinet minister, has said he will not back Conservative candidate Boris Johnson in the London mayoral election, signalling instead his support for Siobhan Benita, the only independent candidate in the race.
In the latest sign that many are putting party loyalties to one side in a race where personality plays a significant role, Portillo said he could not support Johnson because of the incumbent mayor’s opposition to a third runway at Heathrow.
Portillo turned down an invitation to give Johnson a “ringing endorsement” on the BBC This Week programme on Thursday night, just hours after the Labour peer Lord Sugar broke ranks on Twitter to say he thought no one should vote for Ken Livingstone, the party’s candidate in the London mayoral elections.
Sugar tweeted: “I don’t care if Ed Miliband is backing Livingstone. I seriously suggest NO ONE votes for Livingstone in the mayoral elections.” He also wrote: “Livingstone must NOT get in on 3rd May.”
Sugar’s comments were played down by Labour party leader Ed Miliband while out on the campaign trail on Friday ahead of the local elections: “Alan Sugar is Alan Sugar,” he shrugged.
Portillo, who left parliament in 1997 as the most high-profile casualty of the Labour general election landslide, resisted an attempt by presenter Andrew Neil to endorse Johnson.
“I will be looking for a candidate who endorses a third runway for Heathrow airport because I think that is fundamentally important for the capital and I can’t understand any candidate presenting himself or herself without making such a commitment,” said Portillo.
Benita is the only candidate among the seven contenders in the race to advocate a third runway on the ground that “a global city like London needs a global airport”. Johnson has instead lobbied for the past four years for a new airport hub on the Thames Estuary – a proposal that is expected to be considered when the government seeks views on its aviation policy this summer.
Benita, who is battling for airtime as an independent candidate, welcomed the tacit endorsement.
“I am delighted that Michael Portillo is supporting the candidate who is backing a third runway,” she said. “I am the only candidate who is doing that. It is a decision that is too important to play party politics with. It is the right decision for the future prosperity of London and the UK.”
The move may not come as a surprise in light of comments made by Portillo in 2008, just before Johnson was declared mayor, that he was “in many ways an embarrassment” to the Conservative party.
Speaking on the night that votes were being counted, Portillo told the BBC: “If Boris wins tonight, the Tories are going to hold their breath for the next two years.”
Johnson’s re-election campaign hit back, saying: “We are delighted that Michael Portillo has highlighted Boris’s rock solid commitment that there will be no third runway at Heathrow while he is mayor.” The decision on airport expansion rests with the government and is outside the jurisdiction of City Hall.
Prior to the general election, both the Liberal Democrats and theConservatives were opposed to a third runway – a position sealed in the coalition agreement. But many Tories reportedly want the party to admit the decision was wrong and back the new runway in the manifesto for the next general election.
The transport secretary, Theresa Villiers, sought to scotch rumours of a possible U-turn when she told an aviation conference in a speech this week that the government would “explore all the options for maintaining the UK’s aviation hub status with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow”.