Standard reports that “Lib-Dems ready to drop Gatwick runway ban from election plans”
Date added: June 19, 2014
The Evening Standard reports that the LibDems are set to use their election manifesto to open the door to a 2nd runway at Gatwick while still opposing a 3rd runway at Heathrow. The Standard says the party is moving towards scrapping its blanket ban on airport expansion in the South-East. “It could be replaced with a series of tests on climate change and local pollution, as well as on levels of noise suffered by communities around airports.” (Whatever that is meant to mean). The process of writing their election manifesto is being overseen by MP David Laws. It is still at the committee stage of drawing up key policies to be put to members for approval at the LibDem conference in the autumn. A “senior LibDem” is quoted as saying: “We will not endorse an expansion in airport capacity which would increase current noise pollution for the hundreds of thousands of residents living beneath the flight path, or which would break the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations on aviation, which are needed to meet our carbon reduction targets.” (The CCC targets are rather weak and permit a new runway, with various provisos).
Lib-Dems ready to drop Gatwick runway ban from election plans
The Liberal Democrats are set to use their election manifesto to open the door to a second runway at Gatwick while still opposing a bigger Heathrow.
The party is moving towards scrapping its blanket ban on airport expansion in the South-East. It could be replaced with a series of tests on climate change and local pollution, as well as on levels of noise suffered by communities around airports.
The manifesto process, being overseen by senior MP David Laws, is still at the committee stage of drawing up key policies to be put to members for approval at the party’s annual conference in the autumn.
“We will announce our policies in due course but I cannot envisage the circumstances in which we drop our opposition to the expansion of Heathrow,” said a senior Lib-Dem source.
“We will not endorse an expansion in airport capacity which would increase current noise pollution for the hundreds of thousands of residents living beneath the flight path, or which would break the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations on aviation, which are needed to meet our carbon reduction targets,”
Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg is likely to face opposition from some members to ditching the ban.
However, maintaining it would be a snub to Sir Howard Davies, the former London School of Economics boss who is chairing a commission into Britain’s future airport needs.
In an interim report in December it shortlisted Gatwick or Heathrow as expansion options and is still considering the case for a “Boris island” hub airport in the Thames Estuary. Sir Howard also concluded that the South East needs one new runway by 2030.
The Deputy Prime Minister has hinted he may support a second runway at Gatwick, highlighting “the case” for expansion of the airport.
The Conservatives are also expected to drop their opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, which was part of their green agenda in 2010.
Three young Londoners have won a £10,000 prize for their short film raising environmental concerns over a third runway at Heathrow.
Anti-expansion campaigner Hugh Grant praised the “beautiful and powerful” film.
The top 15 films chosen from 50 entries were screened to 800 people at the Richmond Theatre last night.
The 60-second film Heathrow Won’t Listen, created by Tom Murray, 22, Andy Chan, 25, and Dan Grant, 22, follows a family in their back garden as the sounds of piano music, children’s laughter and genteel conversation are gradually drowned out by the roar of an aeroplane overhead.
It will now be used as a viral campaign video to raise public awareness.
To see the winning submissions, visit http://www.no-ifs-no-buts.com/
Does Lord Bradshaw reflect Lib Dem aviation policy?
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 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.