Labour leader Ed Miliband warns Sir Howard over risks of extra Heathrow runways
Ed Miliband has had talks with Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission. Ed has expressed concern about the possibility of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, which would put at risk Labour’s chances of winning several key marginal seats, including Battersea, Brentford and Isleworth, Ealing Central and Acton. Labour understands that a 3r</span>d runway, or 4th, at Heathrow would cause more noise and pollution misery for hundreds of thousands of Londoners. Labour also insists that any airport expansion will have to meet the target of cutting aviation CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, as the Committee on Climate Change advise. However, the Standard says: “Labour is not ruling out supporting a bigger Heathrow but it is likely to demand convincing evidence that extra noise and pollution can be sufficiently mitigated.” It adds: “Labour could be tempted to reject Heathrow expansion before the election” to boost its electoral chances. It also says: “Aviation sources said Sir Howard … was concerned that Ms Eagle was moving towards favouring a 2nd runway at Gatwick
Labour leader Ed Miliband warns airports chief over extra Heathrow runways
The Labour leader held talks with Sir Howard Davies, who chairs the Airports Commission, in which he is understood to have reiterated his party’s stance on proposals for airport expansion in the South East.
Labour is sceptical that a third runway, and possibly a fourth, can be built at Heathrow without causing more noise and pollution misery for hundreds of thousands of Londoners. It also insists that any airport expansion will have to meet the target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
Labour is not ruling out supporting a bigger Heathrow but it is likely to demand convincing evidence that extra noise and pollution can be sufficiently mitigated.
At a fringe meeting yesterday, shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: “There are really legitimate concerns about the impact of a third runway at Heathrow on local communities in terms of noise and air quality.
“However, we will have to await the Airports Commission report to see what Sir Howard Davies recommends and it’s important not to prejudge his work.”
Aviation sources said Sir Howard, former director of the London School of Economics, was concerned that Ms Eagle was moving towards favouring a second runway at Gatwick.
The Airports Commission is due to deliver an interim report this year before publishing its final conclusion after the 2015 general election.
But Labour could be tempted to reject Heathrow expansion before the election to boost its chances of winning several key marginal seats, including Battersea, Brentford and Isleworth and Ealing Central and Acton.
Labour has also criticised the delay in publishing the final Airports Commission report and two former trade ministers, Lord Digby Jones and Lord Mervyn Davies, have written to Sir Howard to raise this issue with him.
They wrote: “We are increasingly concerned about the gradual decline in Britain’s global aviation capacity when compared with our European competitors and the negative impact this is already having on our economic competitiveness.
“While the UK has continued to do nothing, many of our developed economy global competitors such as Germany have already modernised their airport infrastructure.”
Heathrow bosses have published proposals for a third runway, and even a fourth. They say the impact will be cut by locating runways to the west of the airport and using quieter aircraft— a claim disputed by anti-expansion campaigners.
Gatwick’s owners today said they could lure one of the global airline alliances if they win permission to build a second runway.
Stewart Wingate, chief executive at the Sussex airport, said he was targeting either SkyTeam or Star Alliance but conceded that OneWorld, led by British Airways, would never leave its Heathrow base.
Although the alliances have said they want to remain at Heathrow, Mr Wingate said: “If an alliance were to move down at some future point into Gatwick not only would there be room for that alliance to grow, but that would create more space at Heathrow for the other remaining alliances to grow too.”
Gatwick wants to build a new runway to enable the airport to deal with 87 million passengers each year by 2050 compared to 34 million now.
Stansted’s owners today launched a campaign for an ungraded rail link to London as they seek to attract long-haul flights to the Essex airport.
Lord Digby Jones tells Airports Commission – “don’t just stand there. Do something!”
Date added: September 23, 2013
Lord DIgby Jones has been a vociferous supporter of a 3rd Heathrow runway for many years, as well as backer of the aviation industry. He has now written, with two other former high ranking figures in business, to the Airports Commission asking them to “be bold” and get a move on with making a decision on building a new runway. Sir Digby was briefly the chair of the aviation industry lobby body, “Flying Matters” before stepping down to become trade and industry minister in Gordon Brown’s ailing government. Lord Digby believes the government should first lift the flight number cap at Heathrow to allow concurrent take-off and landing from both runways, and there should be other changes to allow Gatwick and Stansted to compete more effectively. He believes the UK is falling behind competitors, and the building of a runway would solve all the UK economy’s problems – and prevent the UK losing out to rivals. He says: Politicians, please don’t just stand there. Do something! You are crippling our economy by doing nothing. Back in 2007, speaking of people troubled by noise from East Midlands airport, he said: ..”rural residents should sacrifice their well-being in exchange for economic progress …”
Two days earlier:
Balls contradicts Miliband as he backs third runway over HS2
Asked to choose between a third runway at Heathrow and High Speed 2, Balls replies: “third runway”. Miliband would say the reverse.
BY GEORGE EATON (New statesman)
21 SEPTEMBER 2013
The most significant line in Ed Balls’s Times interview today has gone strangely unnoted by the paper, which splashes on the news that he was part of a “macho Brownite cabal”.
Asked in a “quick fire” section whether he favours a “third runway or HS2”, the shadow chancellor replies: “third runway”. Why is that striking? Because it is the reverse of the answer that Ed Miliband would give. As Damian McBride’s memoir reminds us, Miliband “effectively threatened to resign from the cabinet” over the planned third runway at Heathrow, a move that successfully torpedoed the policy. Since then, shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle has said that the idea is “off the agenda” on account of Miliband’s past opposition.
On HS2, while Balls is increasingly sceptical of the new high speed line, warning that there will be “no blank cheque from a Labour Treasury”, Miliband remains personally supportive of the project, which was launched by Andrew Adonis, the party’s shadow infrastructure minister and man he has appointed to lead Labour’s economic growth review.
It has long been an open secret in Westminster that Balls believes Labour should prioritise airport expansion over HS2 but his decision to put this fact on record is significant.