The assembly passed a motion by 13 votes to 7 today in response to a recommendation in an interim report published last month by Howard Davies’s Airports Commission shortlisting Heathrow alongside Gatwick, south of the capital, as suitable for expansion.
“Airport capacity in London is currently underused; in fact some London airports have more than half of their runway slots free,” Caroline Pidgeon, the leader of the Liberal Democrats on the assembly, who proposed the motion, said in an e-mailed statement. “Rather than inflict further misery on the residents of west London, the Davies Commission should rule out expansion of Heathrow and focus on better use of capacity at other southeast airports.”
The motion backed Davies’s proposals for improving ground transport links to existing airports.
Tories and Lib Dems at loggerheads as anti-Heathrow expansion motion passed
5th January 2014
By Amy Dyduch (Local Guardian)
Anti-expansion: But who opposes it more?
The London Assembly rejected Heathrow expansion proposals at a meeting today and suggested more use be made of spare capacity at other airports.
Members passed a motion in reaction to the interim report published by Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission and the options proposed for expanding Heathrow and Gatwick.
Conservatives said the Lib Dem motion opened the door for more flights at Heathrow due to the support it showed for increased capacity in the south-east.
Tony Arbour, Conservative London Assembly Member for Richmond and Hounslow, proposed an amendment which said there should be a categorical opposition to any additional flights at Heathrow.
He said: “I, and my Conservative colleagues, are unequivocally opposed to any increase in flights at Heathrow and we, unlike the Lib Dems, will not consider any concession to those who would increase the pollution that the airport brings to residents.”
Caroline Pidgeon AM, who proposed the motion, said she was disappointed to see Heathrow expansion back on the table.
She said: “Airport capacity in London is currently under-used, in fact some London airports have more than half of their runway slots free.
“Rather than inflict further misery on the residents of west London, the Davies Commission should rule out expansion of Heathrow and focus on better use of capacity at other south-east airports.”
Liberal Democrats branded Tories expansion-supporters after all Conservative members voted against the motion.
Robin Meltzer, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for Richmond Park, said: “It’s no longer the case that the Tories are split on Heathrow.
“Now, almost everyone they have in elected office is in favour of mass expansion or, at best, isn’t bothered. The few who are on our side of the argument are simply sidelined by their leadership.”
MP Zac Goldsmith, who has long made clear his opposition to Heathrow expansion and organised a mass protest rally against additional runways last year, hit back at Lib Dem claims, and said their failure to back Coun Arbour’s amendment meant they were standing in the way of true opposition to Heathrow expansion.
He said: “The fact remains that the Lib Dems could have removed Heathrow expansion from the terms of reference of the Airport Commission without any effort at all.
“That would have killed it off forever, but they chose not to because they see the threat as a campaign opportunity.
“Putting it mildly – for those seriously committed to stopping Heathrow expansion, the Lib Dems have been a real pain in the backside.”
Assembly hits out at Davies for keeping Heathrow on the table
THE LONDON Assembly hit out at the possible expansion of Heathrow Airport yesterday, saying a new runway would inflict unnecessary noise on nearby residents.
The Assembly voted 13 to 7 in favour of a motion opposing a larger Heathrow, calling instead for airlines to use spare capacity at other airports in the south east.
This compares to a unanimous vote on a similar motion in July 2012. Conservative members voted against the motion yesterday.
“I must add that whatever happens with regard to airport expansion, London does need a noise regulator now. Paris has one – why don’t we?” said Labour member Valerie Shawcross, who seconded the motion.
The vote came as Heathrow pledged to consult with residents near the airport about how a third runway would affect the area.
Chief executive Colin Matthews is expected to say today that he will take the views of locals into consideration when putting together Heathrow’s revised runway proposal in May.
Matthews is due to speak at the Runways UK conference, which will also hear from Sir Howard Davies, the head of the government’s aviation commission.
The commission last month shortlisted Heathrow and Gatwick as possible sites for a new runway in the coming years, while keeping alive the option of a new hub airport built in the Thames Estuary.