Does Lord Bradshaw reflect Lib Dem aviation policy?
The Evening Standard has reported that Lord William Bradshaw, who co-chairs the little known Liberal Democrat parliamentary committee on transport has said he backs a Gatwick 2nd runway. Lord Bradshaw, who is a former railwayman, has said Gatwick should be allowed a 2nd runway if “it pays for an upgrade of the Brighton-to- London rail line” … and because it offers “real improvements on the rail journey to London” for the residents of Sussex. Eh? A runway to improve rail services?? The Liberal Democrats have traditionally said they would not back a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick. Their policy has been somewhat muddled and confusing over the past few years, with talk of a hub, and no net new runways. However, in the past they have been consistent in saying that the UK’s carbon targets are at risk if aviation is allowed to expand. They may now be wavering, and no longer to be trusted in their rejection of new runways. Nick Clegg’s party now says it wants to see reassurances about environmental considerations – whether carbon emissions or local air and noise pollution – written into the final Davies report. A much weaker position.
The LibDem website states:
“For Labour and the Conservatives, the environment is just an after-thought, something to support when times are good but to abandon as soon as it becomes unpopular.
The Liberal Democrats will never abandon our commitment to the environment. We are the only party that can be trusted to deliver green jobs and green growth in Government.”
Nick Clegg is reported as saying, on 19.12.2013, on the LibDem website:
“My point of view has always been why I’ve always opposed certainly the plans that I’ve seen in the past for the expansion of Heathrow is because of the environment effects. I’m not going to endorse any plan of airport expansion which would increase the existing levels of noise and air pollution and would breach the climate change targets that we’ve all signed up to.”
The LibDem website says of Lord Bradshaw:
William Bradshaw – Baron Bradshaw, of Wallingford
Bill Bradshaw started his career as a railwayman in the 1950s, rising through the ranks to become Operations Superintendent of the West of England Division, Divisional Manager Liverpool, Chief Operations Manager at Crewe, Director of Operations and General Manager at Paddington. On leaving the railway he became successively Professor of Transport Management at Salford University, a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford and Chairman of Ulsterbus. Latterly he had been a Board member of Lothian regional Transport, a member of the Strategic Rail authority and the Commission for Integrated Transport. He has been interested in politics from an early age, becoming an Oxfordshire County Councillor in 1993. He is Vice-Chairman of the Thames Valley Police Authority and served on the Thames Valley Police Authority for thirteen years.
Bill is currently Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport.
Plans for second runway at Gatwick airport are backed by Liberal Democrat peer
Gatwick is winning growing Liberal Democrat backing to build a second runway to boost Britain’s links to the rest of the world.
Lord Bradshaw, who co-chairs the Lib-Dem parliamentary committee on transport, argued that the Sussex airport should be allowed to expand if it pays for an upgrade of the Brighton-to- London rail line.
Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg has hinted he may support another Gatwick runway if the Davies Commission into the UK’s airports recommends it instead of a third runway at Heathrow.
But he faces a battle persuading Lib-Dems to overturn their party’s policy, which opposes airport expansion in the South East.
Former railwayman Lord Bradshaw said Gatwick was “the best option”. He added: “Go for Gatwick because they have something to offer the residents of Sussex — real improvements on the rail journey to London.
“The environmental pollution is a problem wherever but it’s a lot worse at Heathrow.” He said many Lib-Dems could be persuaded to support a runway at Gatwick if the economic arguments were properly made.
It could be built in three or four years, he added, quicker than a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary, as proposed by Mayor Boris Johnson.
Former Lib-Dem minister Jeremy Browne has also backed a second runway at Gatwick as an interim solution before a longer-term plan for a new hub airport on the north Kent coast.
The airports commission is due to publish its verdict in September.
Lib Dems resolute on runway debate
Liberal Democrats have sent a strong message to their coalition partners that they are “not for turning” on the issue of building a third runway at Heathrow.
Delegates at the party’s autumn conference in Brighton also voted overwhelmingly to reject London Mayor Boris Johnson’s “fantasy” plans to construct an airport in the Thames Estuary.
Dr Julian Huppert, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport, told members it was time for the party to set out an aviation policy which “balances the need for growth with the clear environmental threat that we face”.
He said: “Aviation is the fastest-growing contributor to our emissions, we simply must not build airport capacity which would force us to miss those carbon reduction targets, it’s as simple as that.”
Dr Huppert claimed passenger numbers could be increased without building new runways anywhere in the country, arguing there was space at existing airports in the UK, including Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester which had usable capacity. He said: “We don’t need to build new capacity, we need to use it better.”
There was a “clear need” for Britain to have a global hub airport in order to remain competitive and the party should look for a better option, Dr Huppert said. He added: “Our long-term vision is a new hub if we can find somewhere that’s better than we already have, but only if we close other runways to make up for it, so there’s no net increase in runways or total capacity.”
“Boris Island”, he argued, was “not a proper suggestion”, adding: “It is, simply put, a bad idea. The location is wrong, the cost too high, the environmental damage too great, and that’s just the start of the problems.”
Dr Huppert turned his fire on Labour, claiming they did not have a policy on Heathrow and branding them “irresponsible in government, irresponsible out of government”. He also criticised his party’s coalition partners over their aviation policy, saying the Conservatives “were wavering all over the place, their party is astonishingly divided”.
Lib Dem Transport Minister Norman Baker said if a third runway at Heathrow was built it would generate more extra carbon emissions each year than Kenya and cause “untold extra misery” for hundreds of thousands of people in west London.
He said: “Now it seems some Conservatives are buckling as well – well the Lib Dems are not buckling. We said in our manifesto we were against a third runway, we said it again in the coalition agreement and I’m saying it again today: There will be no third runway at Heathrow on our watch.”
Lib Dems underline opposition to new London runways
Liberal Democrats have stressed they will not support new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted airport.
The party says it is “pushing for a new aviation strategy” which will balance the need for growth with environmental concerns.
It will ask party members to endorse the policy at its annual conference.
A government consultation over expanding airports in south east England has been delayed amid reports of disagreements on how to go ahead.
The Liberal Democrats have long opposed a third runway at Heathrow, the cancellation of which formed part of the coalition agreement.
But Chancellor George Osborne and other Conservative MPs are reported to be warming to the idea – with speculation that this is the reason the consultation has been postponed.
Boris Johnson, who supports a new airport in the Thames Estuary, has accused the government of “pussyfooting around” on airport expansion.
He told the Evening Standard: “The attempt to try and long-grass it for three years into the other side of the election is just not realistic. Totally mad and it won’t work.”
The Liberal Democrats’ strategy, which will be debated as a motion at Lib Dem conference, claims that efforts to improve the UK’s aviation network are overwhelmingly focused on London and the south east.
It says the party will push for better use of the existing airport capacity in the south east and at regional airports to meet short-to-medium term demand.
A new airport in the Thames Estuary is rejected “firmly”, but the party says it wants an “independent evidence-based study” to research alternative locations for a hub airport – which would be environmentally friendly and accessible from all parts of the UK.
It also rejects the “mixed mode” use of runways at Heathrow – where the existing two runways are used for both take-offs and landings.
Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert, chairman of the party’s transport committee, said: “Aviation has the potential to become one of the greatest threats to the global environment. Unmitigated expansion of aviation would cause the UK to miss its carbon reduction targets.
“Successive governments have failed to come up with a clear strategy which supports the aviation industry while mitigating its impact on the environment and local residents.
“Enough is enough. The public deserve an airport policy which balances the benefits from aviation with the harms it can do to the environment globally and locally. That is exactly what we’ll deliver.”
The government’s consultation was meant to start in March this year, but was then delayed until the summer, and is now unlikely to go ahead until the autumn.
Cambridge MP calls on Lib Dems to oppose new runways
In what’s being seen as a shift in his position on the issue – Nick Clegg has refused to rule out a second runway at Stansted or building a brand new airport in the Thames.
This appears to be at odds with Julian Huppert’s motion, presented at the Lib Dems’ Brighton conference.
His motion reinforces the party’s opposition to new runways at London’s airports – when there is already space at existing airports for a 60% expansion.
The call for long term airport expansion has been growing over the last year and the government has started to listen.
The government has just appointed an independent commission to advise on what should be done.
By voting so strongly for this motion our party members and supporters have left the public in no doubt where we stand on this crucial issue”
Dr Julian Huppert MP(Lib Dem) Cambridge
Among the options most favoured by the industry are a third runway at Heathrow, a new runway at Stansted or the so called Boris Island hub airport off the Essex coast.
The Lib Dems have always been opposed to any further expansion – but now their leader seems to be sitting on the fence – telling us we should wait for the independent commission to report.
Meanwhile, at their conference, the Liberal Democrats backed a motion proposed by the MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, to continue to oppose any more expansion in the South East.
“We acknowledge that there are benefits to aviation and we want to maximise those benefits while at the same time protecting our environment and meeting our carbon emission targets,” he says.
“But we must not allow the total number of UK runways to expand. Flight movements above the Committee on Climate Change cap would pose an unacceptable risk.”
The policy also makes it clear that the party has a long term vision for a new hub airport – if an appropriate location can be found – but without an increase in runways or total airport capacity. [This has always been a very muddled, unclear policy. AW comment ].
Dr Huppert asserts: “By voting so strongly for this motion our party members and supporters have left the public in no doubt where we stand on this crucial issue.”
While Mr Huppert wants to balance the industry’s benefits as a driver of jobs and growth with its environmental damage, Mr Clegg’s comments seem to suggest that the party leadership’s view is changing.
Campaigners living near Stansted and the Thames will have to make their minds up as to which way the Lib Dem wind is blowing.
Lib Dems shift hostility on airport expansion
By Jim Pickard, Chief Political Correspondent ( Financial Times)
The Lib Dems have abandoned outright hostility to new runways in the Southeast in a significant shift that could lead to a future cross-party consensus on Heathrow’s expansion.
As the Davies Commission published its interim report into aviation, the Lib Dems executed a subtle change in position and said they are now “not opposed in principle” to new runways in the region.
The adjustment echoes the wider trend with the Tory leadership now keen to expand Heathrow, while Labour leader Ed Miliband has dropped his outright opposition – albeit while remaining sceptical.
For years Nick Clegg’s party has been vociferous in its resistance to any expansion of London’s major airports on environmental grounds.
That position has made the expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted all but impossible under a coalition government.
Before the last election Mr Clegg warned: “A third runway at Heathrow would be a disaster for the local area as well as a disaster for the whole country.”
But on Tuesday the party struck a different note on aviation by referring to this policy in the past tense. “Our position has always been against airport expansion in the southeast,” said a spokesman.
Asked to explain what this meant, he added: “The door was nailed shut, it is no longer nailed shut, but it is hardly open.”
Another senior Lib Dem said the new position was not “glorious”, but added: “All parties are using this report as an opportunity to reposition themselves, this is not any party’s finest hour.”
Nick Clegg’s party now says it wants to see reassurances about environmental considerations – whether carbon emissions or local air and noise pollution – written into the final Davies report.
The news will be welcomed by business groups, while alarming environmental campaigners and grassroots activists.
Joss Garman, deputy political director at Greenpeace, warned: “If Nick Clegg adds Heathrow to his list of U-turns it would rank alongside tuition fees as a monumental betrayal of trust.”
A Tory U-turn on Heathrow would be ‘catastrophic’ for Mr Cameron– Zac Goldsmith, environmentalist Conservative MP for Richmond
Mr Miliband used to be opposed to the third runway, so much so he nearly resigned as energy secretary in the previous government.
But with shadow chancellor Ed Balls backing an expanded Heathrow hub, the Labour leader has dropped his previous “implacable opposition”.
Mary Creagh, shadow transport secretary, appeared open to the idea of a new Heathrow runway on Tuesday.
“It is good to see that the original Heathrow proposal for a third runway, of which we were sceptical, has been taken off the table and that this work is taking place within the context of our ongoing climate change commitments,” she said.
Behind the scenes both George Osborne, the chancellor, and prime minister David Cameron are now minded to press ahead with the Heathrow third runway if the Tories win a majority in 2015.
Zac Goldsmith, the environmentalist Tory MP for Richmond, said a Tory U-turn on Heathrow would be “catastrophic” for Mr Cameron given how he had promised to block the airport’s expansion.