Justine Greening believes Cameron and Cabinet will abandon Heathrow 3rd runway plans
Justine Greening, MP for Putney, long standing opponent of a 3rd Heathrow runway, and International Development Secretary, has said that David Cameron will abandon plans to build a 3rd Heathrow runway. She predicted that the Cabinet would conclude that Heathrow should not be expanded. Instead a new “long term” strategy should be drawn up to decide on a “sensible” future airport policy for the UK. The Telegraph says this risks a backlash and potential legal challenge from pro airport campaigners. Those wanting a new runway claim that it is needed to prevent flights and businesses going to other countries in Europe in the decades ahead. Last autumn Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary and Britain’s most senior civil servant, warned ministers not to comment on the runway issue before an announcement due to concerns that the final decision could be vulnerable to legal challenge by the losing side or its backers. Justine Greening said she did not think the Cabinet would back Heathrow as it was not a smart decision. “Trying to expand Heathrow is like trying to build an eight bedroom mansion on the site of a terraced house. It is a hub airport that is just simply in the wrong place.” She had said earlier that she might resign if Heathrow was granted a runway, but she my have changed her mind.
David Cameron will abandon Heathrow third runway plans, Cabinet minister declares
Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, predicts that the Cabinet will conclude that the west London airport should not be expanded
Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, predicted that the Cabinet would conclude that the west London airport should not be expanded.
She called for a new “long term” strategy to be drawn up to decide on a “sensible” future airport policy for the UK.
Her intervention, in an interview with The Telegraph ahead of this week’s Budget, risked a furious backlash and potential legal challenge from airport campaigners.
It came as 30 Tory MPs demanded George Osborne use his Budget to protect airports in England from higher rates of passenger tax than could apply in Wales.
Britain is running out of airport capacity in the south of England. There are fears that without a new runway serving London, flights and businesses will go to other countries in Europe in the decades ahead.
The Cabinet is still considering whether to proceed with a third runway at Heathrow, or approve a rival development at Gatwick instead.
Downing Street has banned ministers from making any statements on the question of where a new runway could be built, amid fears that such remarks could be used in legal action by the losing side.
But Miss Greening – a London MP and known opponent of Heathrow expansion – said she was confident that her colleagues in the Cabinet would reject the third runway plan.
“I don’t believe that this government will proceed with a third runway decision,” she told The Telegraph. “I just don’t think it is a smart decision.
“Trying to expand Heathrow is like trying to build an eight bedroom mansion on the site of a terraced house. It is a hub airport that is just simply in the wrong place.”
Miss Greening, the MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, said she believed her fellow ministers would “reach the same conclusion”.
“The sooner that we can move onto working out a long term airport strategy for Britain the better,” she said.
Last autumn Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary and Britain’s most senior civil servant, warned ministers not to comment on Heathrow before an announcement amid concerns that the final decision could be vulnerable to legal challenge.
When she was Transport Secretary in the last parliament, Miss Greening said she would find it “very difficult” not to resign from the Cabinet if plans to expand Heathrow went ahead.
She has made campaigning against the third runway a key local issue in her constituency.
But she suggested that she could stay on in the Cabinet now that she no longer holds the transport brief, even if the eventual decision overHeathrow went against her wishes.
“There is no decision,” she said. “I do believe in Cabinet collective responsibility but I am in the Cabinet and I am absolutely continuing to represent my constituents’ concerns.”
Her comments came as a group of 30 Conservative MPs wrote to the Chancellor urging him to guarantee that airports in England will not be undercut by rivals in Wales.
Mr Osborne is said to be considering plans to devolve setting air passenger duty to the Welsh government.
But the group of MPs, all of whom represent constituencies in south-west England, warned that airports such as Bristol would lose business if the duty was cut at Cardiff Airport but remained unchanged in England.
In the letter to the Chancellor, the MPs, led by Liam Fox, warned that devolving APD to Wales could have an “extremely severe” impact on passengers and businesses in the region.
They predicted “more expensive travel for people in the South West when going on a hard-earned family holiday” and called on him to rule out devolving APD to Wales in the Budget on Wednesday.
Billions of pounds of investment and future income are at stake but but a final decision has been delayed and is not now expected until after the EU referendum in June.
A third runway OR an expansion of the airport’s existing northern runway
Led by: Heathrow Airport Ltd, or Heathrow Hub Ltd
Completion date: 2029
Cost: £13bn – £18bn
Capacity: Up to 260,000 additional flights per year
Supporters; Business leaders broadly favour Heathrow, given its existing globally-recognised status as a major airport. Some locals who believe an expanded Heathrow will bring thousands of jobs to the area;
Opponents: In 2009, David Cameron said a Conservative government would not build a third runway at Heathrow – “no ifs, no buts”. Locals worried about increased traffic, noise and pollution under the flight path. Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith
Rival bid: A second runway at Gatwick Airport
Heathrow: Cameron ‘preparing to drop opposition to third runway’
The government is preparing to announce the next phase for airport expansion within weeks, ahead of a new public consultation on increasing aviation capacity
By Tim Ross, Senior Political Correspondent (Telegraph)
7 Nov 2015
David Cameron has decided it would be politically safe to back a third runway at Heathrow, despite previously promising to block the expansion of Britain’s busiest airport, Whitehall sources have said.
The government is preparing to announce the next phase for airport expansion within weeks, ahead of a new public consultation on increasing aviation capacity.
The Prime Minister has been wrestling with a “difficult decision” over whether to approve a third runway at Heathrow because he promised before the 2010 election that he would oppose such a plan.
However, Whitehall figures said Mr Cameron has been offered a way out by the independent Davies Commission, which decisively recommended expanding Heathrow while leaving the door ajar to potentially extending Gatwick.
Government insiders say that the Prime Minister believes that the Davies Commission’s strong recommendation in favour of the new Heathrow plan would make it politically acceptable for him to reverse his opposition to the earlier third runway proposal.
Officials are preparing for an announcement before Christmas on how the aviation plans will progress.
Increasing aviation capacity in the South East represents one of the most expensive and controversial infrastructure decisions facing the new Conservative government.
A number of MPs including Cabinet minister and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, have vocally opposed a third runway at Heathrow, while others oppose expanding Gatwick.
However, Sir Howard Davies, who chaired the commission examining the future of aviation capacity in the South East, recommended decisively that the government should allow Heathrow to expand because this would lead to more jobs, and wider economic benefits than extending Gatwick.
One Whitehall source said: “There will be some sort of announcement next month. Officials are still analysing data. The decision will be for the Prime Minister but it is difficult for him because he made this ‘no ifs, no buts’ promise not to build a third runway.”
The Davies Commission was so clearly in favour of Heathrow over Gatwick that “in the Prime Minister’s mind” it would be safe to choose a third runway at Heathrow. It’s not yet clear whether the public would agree, the source said.
The Chancellor is likely to want a decision as soon as possible, given how he has sought to brand the Conservatives as the champions of new building schemes.
“It would be difficult for the Chancellor to stand up and say ‘we are the builders’ and then when he has been given a really clear direction to build Heathrow, to say, ‘actually, we’re the pragmatists,’” one government insider said.
Mr Cameron is understood to want all the analysis to be completed before he comes to a verdict. It has been suggested that the Chancellor will take control over the issue, making the crucial announcement about the government’s preferred option. This would potentially save the Prime Minister from awkward questions over a policy reversal.
Government sources suggested that an announcement formally responding to the Davies Commission may not be part of Mr Osborne’s Autumn Statement on November 25 but could be made separately in December.
Justine Greening, the Tory MP for Putney and International Development Secretary, has promised to continue fighting against expansion at Heathrow.
She has told her constituents that she has been assured by Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, that there will be a new public consultation on plans before a final decision is taken.
The high costs of expanding Heathrow and the impact on the environment, including noise and air pollution, remain the subjects of considerable argument.
Heathrow has promised to charge airlines higher fees for landing noisier and more polluting aircraft at the airport in future. “We will encourage the world’s quietest aircraft to use Heathrow, charging more for noisier aircraft to land and quieter aircraft less and introduce “green slots” so that only the quietest and cleanest aircraft can use the capacity provided by a new runway,” the group said in a new report to MPs.
“We are clear – Heathrow expansion should only go ahead within strict environmental limits on noise, local air quality and in line with the UK’s climate change targets.”
Changes to road networks and new train links direct to Reading and Waterloo, as well as Crossrail, will help discourage travellers from driving to Heathrow, the airport said.