Predictable arrogant shouting from business lobby – they want their runway, no matter what its impacts are

The media have been unimpressive in their coverage of the statement by the government that they are not making a runway location decision this year. They have almost entirely focused on the demands of the business lobby. While the government decision is in large part to avoid political difficulties, of Zac Goldsmith being Tory London Mayoral candidate – there are very real environmental and other problems with either runway location. The Airports Commission did a very incomplete job in its recommendation. It left key areas such as carbon emissions, local air pollution and noise impacts for the government to sort out. It largely neglected health impacts, or costs to the taxpayer, or long term social and economic costs to areas near the “chosen” airport. It was therefore inevitable that a vast amount of additional work would need to be done, before any government could – responsibly and prudently – make a runway decision. Due to the flaws in the Commission’s recommendation, the government is aware it will face forceful legal challenges, especially on air pollution.  The Environmental Audit Committee set out the extra conditions the government needs to fulfil before making any decision. By contrast the business lobby just things shouting loudly and aggressively that they want a runway, and they want it now, (regardless of its adverse effects) will win them the day. Stunningly arrogant, and without any apparent analysis of the actual facts. But the media seem to love it.
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Below are some of the gung-ho statements by various parts of the business lobby:

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry – the UK’s biggest business lobby group -said the delay was deeply disappointing. She warned that if a new runway wasn’t up and running by 2030, the cost to the UK could be as much as £5.3 billion a year in lost trade to the leading emerging markets alone.

“We cannot fall into the habit of simply commissioning new evidence, instead of the government taking the tough decisions needed at the end of the process,” she said.

Carolyn Fairbairn said delaying the decision “on an issue of critical importance to the future prosperity of the UK is deeply disappointing”.

“We urgently need to increase our runway capacity to spur trade growth, investment and job creation. Just eight new routes to emerging markets could boost our exports by up to £1bn a year,” she said.

“But by 2025 – the earliest a new runway would be built – London’s airports could already be operating at full capacity and the longer we wait the further we fall behind the likes of Amsterdam and Paris. If we don’t have a new runway up and running by 2030 the cost to the UK will be as much as £5.3bn a year in lost trade to the Brics [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] alone.”

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Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors said business leaders would be “tearing their hair out” at news of the delay. “The government has set the very ambitious target of increasing U.K. exports to £1 trillion a year by 2020. If they can’t fly to emerging markets to make deals, our members are going to find it very hard to meet this aspiration,” he said.

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Rob Gray, the campaign director of the Back Heathrow group (funded by, employed by etc by Heathrow airport), who condemned Cameron’s “dithering and delaying”.

“The government has created more uncertainty for local residents, more uncertainty for workers in the local area and the potential loss to the UK economy of more than £5bn,” he said.

“There is massive support for Heathrow expansion: from across all political parties, the majority of UK businesses, international airlines, local firms and most importantly, from local residents.

“It’s time for the government to get off the fence, commit to Heathrow expansion and seize this golden opportunity to grow the economies of west London, the Thames valley and the UK as a whole.”

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John Longworth, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Businesses will see this as a gutless move by a government that promised a clear decision on a new runway by the end of the year.

“Business will question whether ministers are delaying critical upgrades to our national infrastructure for legitimate reasons, or to satisfy short-term political interests.

“Businesses across Britain will be asking whether there is any point in setting up an Airports Commission if political considerations are always going to trump big decisions in the national interest.”

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Gavin Hayes, Director of Let Britain Fly, said: “The Prime Minister has yet again decided to put short-term political interests before the long-term national interest and kicked the can down the road for another six months.

“This latest fudge is all about political expediency, not about doing what is right for our economy.”

 

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Terry Scuoler, the chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “By avoiding a tough decision, despite a well evidenced shortlist, the government has again dithered and avoided the issue. Industry is fed up and dismayed by the continued excuses and political dilly dallying.”

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Lilian Greenwood, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, was scathing about Cameron having “broken his clear promise to make a decision before the end of the year”. She said: “Tonight’s statement owes more to political calculations than genuine concern for the environment or residents who now face another year of blight and uncertainty. This shambolic announcement is an embarrassment and no-one will be convinced that the government is taking our runway capacity or environmental needs seriously.”

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A pretty typical offering – this one from the Independent:

 

Heathrow Airport expansion: UK business responds furiously as decision on third runway is delayed until summer 2016

Government defers any decision about where to build extra aviation capacity until after London Mayoral elections in May

Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent (Independent)
11.12.2015

As local politics once again supplant the national debate about international connectivity, UK business has responded furiously to a further delay in assigning a new runway for London.

The Government has deferred any decision about where to build extra aviation capacity until after the London Mayoral elections in May 2016 – by which time two-runway Heathrow will have celebrated its 70th birthday.

In 2012 David Cameron set up the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, to recommend the best solution to South-east England’s capacity crunch.

Two years ago, Sir Howard narrowed the choice to two Heathrow options – a third runway or an extended northern runway – or a second runway at Gatwick.

Last July, the Davies Commission recommended a third runway at Heathrow, with “a comprehensive package of accompanying measures which would make the airport’s expansion more acceptable to its local community”.

On the same day, the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said: “We will come back to Parliament in the autumn to provide clear direction on the government’s plans.”

But he insisted more time was needed, saying: “It’s vitally important we get the decision right so that it will benefit generations to come. We will undertake more work on environmental impacts, including air quality, noise and carbon.”

No decision is expected for six months, by which time the new London Mayor will be known. The Tory candidate, Zak Goldsmith, had vowed to resign as MP for Richmond Park if a third runway at Heathrow goes ahead.

The CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, called the postponement “deeply disappointing”, and said: “The Airports Commission spent three years analysing impartial evidence, at a cost of £20 million. We cannot fall into the habit of simply commissioning new evidence, instead of the Government taking the tough decisions needed at the end of the process.”

Gavin Hayes, Director of Let Britain Fly, said: “The Prime Minister has yet again decided to put short-term political interests before the long-term national interest and kicked the can down the road for another six months.

“This latest fudge is all about political expediency, not about doing what is right for our economy.”

Campaigners against expansion at Heathrow claimed the move showed a third runway is undeliverable. John Stewart, chair of HACAN, said: “The Government should face up to the reality that a third runway is unlikely ever to see the light of day.”

The Transport Secretary’s announcement was welcomed by Gatwick’s chief executive. Stewart Wingate said: “There is now a clear choice facing Britain: growth with Gatwick or inertia at Heathrow with an illegal scheme that has failed time and time again. Expansion at Gatwick would give the country the economic benefit it needs at a dramatically lower environmental cost.”

This year London will set a new global record for the number of passengers flying in and out of a single city. The total will exceed 150m for the first time, way ahead of its nearest rival, New York. But no new full-length runway has been built since Heathrow opened in January 1946.

The announcement moves the airport debate back to where it was a quarter-century ago. In 1990, the Conservative Government set up a study into “Runway Capacity to Serve the South East”. Three years later, it concluded that “Benefits to passengers would justify a further runway at Heathrow or Gatwick by 2010” so long as surface access to airports and improved public transport links were properly examined.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/heathrow-airport-expansion-government-delays-decision-on-third-runway-until-summer-as-environmental-a6768601.html

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