Boris to fight (“undeliverable”) 3rd Heathrow runway; he won’t resign over it – but would fight from within Parliament
London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is now also MP for Uxbridge & South Ruislip, has said he would not resign as an MP if the Conservative government approved a Heathrow 3rd runway. He believes he would be better able to fight it by remaining in Parliament. Boris will now be attending the Cabinet – but he does not have a ministerial role, so he can devote his attention to his final year as Mayor. Boris has, for many years, been an outspoken opponent of a new Heathrow runway because of the highly negative impacts of noise and air pollution on Londoners. He has now said that if there was a Heathrow runway, with meeting air quality standards a very difficult challenge, there would have to be a new congestion charge zone around it. That would be the only way to tackle the traffic congestion and air pollution caused by so many extra road vehicles (as well as planes and airport vehicles). Boris said in his MP acceptance speech that he would join Zac Goldsmith and lie down “in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that 3rd runway” at Heathrow. He said a 3rd Heathrow runway was “undeliverable” and that if the Airports Commission recommended it, he hoped their report would be “filed vertically [shelved]” as others had been.
Boris Johnson to fight bigger Heathrow but will not resign
12 May 2015 (BBC)
London Mayor Boris Johnson has said he would not quit as an MP if a Conservative government approved a third runway at Heathrow.
Mr Johnson, who returned to the Commons at the election, told LBC he would be best placed to continue to fight expansion by staying in Parliament.
The Conservative manifesto said the party would “take account” of the Davies Commission into runway options. The report, which has two Heathrow and one Gatwick options, is due next month.
Mr Johnson has been an outspoken opponent of further expansion at Heathrow. He told LBC that if it did go ahead there would have to be a new congestion charge zone around it to tackle the traffic and pollution caused.
Fellow Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has pledged to quit the party and force a by-election if the Conservatives – who scrapped Labour plans for a third runway in 2010 – complete a U-turn on the issue of Heathrow expansion.
In his acceptance speech on being elected MP for Uxbridge, Mr Johnson said he would lie down “in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway” at Heathrow.
Asked on his regular radio phone-in show if he would resign, Mr Johnson pointed out he did not have a government job to resign from – on Monday he was named as someone who would attend the Conservatives’ political cabinet in Downing Street while concentrating on his final year as London mayor and being an MP.
He was then asked by Nick Ferrari if he would force a by-election.
Mr Johnson said he thought he “would be best off staying in Parliament to fight the case”.
He added that he thought Heathrow was “undeliverable” and that if the Davies Commission did choose a new runway there as its preferred option, he hoped it would be “filed vertically [shelved]” as a series of other reviews in past decades had been.
Heathrow expansion ‘not likely’
12.5.2015 (Press Association)
Boris Johnson said he believed the chances of the new Conservative government backing the expansion of Heathrow was “virtually nil” as he vowed to continue his fight against a new runway in Parliament.
The appointment of the newly-elected MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip – who also remains London mayor for the next year – to David Cameron’s political cabinet was seen by some campaigners as an indication the new administration was leaning towards rival Gatwick for much-needed expansion.
A recommendation as to whether a new runway is built at Gatwick or one of two short-listed runway-expansion plans at Heathrow should go ahead is due in a few weeks’ time in a report by the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies.
The Conservative manifesto committed only to “respond to” its recommendations and Mr Johnson said that if it came out in favour of Heathrow it should be “filed vertically” like others that came to similar conclusions over recent decades.
Asked what was the point of having the commission at all, Mr Johnson told LBC radio: “You may well ask.”
“The prospect of expanding Heathrow and putting in a third runway – and then a fourth runway because (they) are very clear that that’s what they want – are virtually nil,” he said.
“It’s not thought through, it’s not likely to happen.”
He said the capital would “almost certainly have to set up a congestion charge to cope with the extra cars coming in”.
Urging ministers to swing behind opposition to Heathrow expansion, he said: “It is for others to man up, to get some cojones and actually to say what they think should happen.
“The truth is that Heathrow is just undeliverable and the sooner we face that the sooner our salvation will come.”
Asked if, like fellow Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, he would quit the Commons if the party backed more runways at Heathrow, he said: “I think would be better off staying in Parliament to fight the case.
“I would certainly oppose the expansion of Heathrow, as would every other MP in West London.”
Zac Goldsmith: Victory is in the air for the anti-Heathrow expansion campaign
By ZAC GOLDSMITH
12 May 2015
With the election over, Heathrow’s owners know they are reaching the end of the road in their campaign to expand. This is because, first and foremost, the argument against them has been won.
Heathrow is already Europe’s biggest noise polluter, and a third runway (its bosses admit a third would lead to a fourth) would increase flights from 480,000 to 740,000 a year. No matter how Heathrow cuts it, an extra runway would massively increase noise.
Just one extra runway would lead to 25 million extra road-passenger journeys each year, and Heathrow (and the Airports Commission) has barely begun to assess the costs involved in adapting the road and rail system to cope. Transport for London tells me the cost has been underestimated by a staggering £15 billion — which of course would be picked up by the public.
London will struggle to stay within its air quality targets even without Heathrow expansion. With air pollution costing 29,000 lives each year in the UK, the issue is moving fast up the political agenda.
Advocates of expansion might dismiss all these as NIMBY concerns, as if the millions affected simply do not count. But even if the only concern were the economy, the case is still wafer-thin.
We’re told we face an imminent capacity problem but London is already well connected. We have six airports and seven runways — more than any of our European rivals. More passengers fly in and out of London than any other city in the world.
However, even if we do need added capacity, Heathrow expansion would not provide it. Figures produced by the Airports Commission show that any additional activity at an expanded Heathrow would be at the expense of surrounding airports. In other words, a third runway would simply centralise existing activity and facilitate a monopoly, the only beneficiaries of which would be its owners.
Heathrow counters that we need to centralise activity and attract transfer passengers to maintain key routes. But nearly 30 per cent of passengers to New York, one of Heathrow’s most popular routes, are transfer passengers: no one pretends such routes would disappear without them.
The alternative is to invest in better surface links and facilitate a super-competitive network. Competition is a good thing. Who would pretend that Gatwick hasn’t significantly improved since the Competition Commission liberated it from the old monopoly?
As the deadline approaches, we can expect to see a flurry of activity. But Heathrow’s owners know, as the Airports Commission surely knows, that expanding it would be a step backwards. I suspect that is why — at the eleventh hour — the commission has launched a consultation on air quality, in the full knowledge that expansion cannot be reconciled with any prospect of clean air in London.
We have won the arguments but I’m not so naïve as to imagine rational arguments always hold sway. And so the second reason why Heathrow expansion will never happen is simply the politics. The Cabinet for this new and fragile Government includes heavyweights such as Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson and, we’re told, Justine Greening, all committed opponents of expansion.
Only days ago, Boris vowed to stand in front of the bulldozers if need be. He will not need to. We are on the cusp of winning this battle once and for all.
Zac Goldsmith is Conservative MP for Richmond Park