Recent opponent of Heathrow runway, Sadiq Khan, appoints pro-Heathrow runway, Lord Adonis on transport
Until June 2015, Sadiq Khan (now London Mayor) backed a 3rd Heathrow runway. He was Transport Minister under Gordon Brown, pushing for it. He then appreciated that he could not be elected Mayor if he backed the runway as it is so unpopular with millions of Londoners, who are adversely affected by it. Ministers are saying his election, and his opposition to a 3rd runway, will not influence their runway decision. The Mayor’s opinion on a runway carries some weight, though they cannot make the decision. Worryingly, Sadiq will appoint former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, who strongly backs a Heathrow runway, to run transport in London. The Labour peer also heads the government’s National Infrastructure Commission. Sadiq backs a 2nd runway at Gatwick to increase airport capacity, as people in areas adversely affected by Gatwick did not get to vote in the Mayoral election. He also backs improved rail links to Stansted. It would be easier for a Conservative government to resist the opposition of a Labour mayor, than a Tory one, to a Heathrow expansion. Transport Professor, David Metz, said: “There is a respectable case for deferring this difficult political decision, to see how a very competitive aviation sector copes with the growth of demand for air travel” … seeing how market forces displace leisure travellers from Heathrow to Stansted in future.
Sadiq Khan’s election ‘will not sway decision on Heathrow’
By Joe Murphy (Evening Standard)
Ministers today indicated that a decision on Heathrow expansion will not be swayed by the election of opponent Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London.
In a blow to anti-runway campaigners, they said his victory cannot be seen as a mandate from voters against the West London airport because both of the frontrunners were opposed.
“Bearing in mind that both the candidates had the same policy on Heathrow, I don’t think that is going to alter our thinking very much,” said a senior Government figure.
“I don’t think we can read anything into airport expansion from the election. It is always controversial and would have been whoever was elected as mayor.”
At the same time, Mr Khan shocked environmental campaigners after his victory by signalling that he plans to appoint former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis to run transport in the capital. The Labour peer, who heads the government’s National Infrastructure Commission, was a leading champion of a third runway.
Green peeress Jenny Jones, who gave her second preference vote to Mr Khan, told the Standard: “I am really alarmed by the appointment of Andrew Adonis.
“He is a very backward person when it comes to dealing with traffic congestion – he is a man who thinks building more roads is the answer. In my view he would add to London’s problems, not cure them.”
Mr Khan originally backed a third runway when he was a transport minister and changed sides when he ran for mayor.
However, he supports a second runway at Gatwick to increase capacity.
David Cameron last year postponed the long-delayed decision on Heathrow until July, partly to avoid a clash between the Government and Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith.
Mr Goldsmith, the Richmond Park MP, has repeatedly made clear he will carry out his 2008 pledge to resign his seat and force a by-election if Mr Cameron gives the go-ahead to an extra runway, which he says would breach a “no ifs, no buts” pledge given by the Tory leader to voters in the area.
However, No 10 does not think it should be influenced by a by-election threat when it comes to a major national infrastructure decision.
Whitehall insiders think the decision on Heathrow faces yet another delay because of a “logjam” caused by the EU referendum.
There is only a one-month window between the vote on June 23 and the summer parliamentary recess, meaning it could slip back to September or later.
Mr Khan was a Transport Minister under Gordon Brown when the third Heathrow runway was Labour policy. In June 2015 he said things had moved on with the recent Supreme Court ruling that the UK was breaching air quality limits.
Sadiq Khan’s City Hall team takes shape … with transport guru tipped as the first big signing
See also – written before the election (extracts)
London elects: What will a new mayor mean for Heathrow Airport?
2.5.2016 (City Metric)
By David Metz (Honorary professor of transport studies at UCL)
With Heathrow already operating at 98% capacity, airport expansion will be one of the biggest issues facing the next mayor of London.
Whoever is elected to the position won’t have the final say – that power lies with the UK government – but their opinion carries the weight of the largest electoral mandate of any UK politician.
Given that neither of the two main contenders – Labour’s Sadiq Khan and the Conservatives’ Zac Goldsmith – support the expansion of Heathrow airport, both will need to think carefully about how they’d like to address the problem.
Airport capacity has been an issue in London at least since the government initiated a consultation in 2000. In 2012, the government set up the Airports Commission to evaluate the evidence on the matter and propose a way forward. The commission rejected outgoing mayor Boris Johnson’s proposal for a whole new airport in the Thames Estuary as too costly.
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee later argued that the government should not approve Heathrow expansion unless the project can be reconciled with legal air pollution limits, and would be less noisy than a two-runway airport.
The new mayor would make his views felt ahead of the government’s announcement. If the go-ahead is given for Heathrow, the new mayor may also intervene in the public inquiry to address local impacts that would precede the granting of detailed planning consent.
Both the main mayoral candidates are against more runway capacity at Heathrow. Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmth is MP for Richmond and North Kingston – a constituency under Heathrow’s flightpath. As such, he has long campaigned against expansion. Labour’s Sadiq Khan opposes a third runway at Heathrow too. Instead, Khan advocates a second runway at Gatwick, and he has also pledged to improve rail links to Stansted airport.
It would be easier for a Conservative government to resist the opposition of a Labour mayor to a Heathrow expansion. But Conservative MPs for West London constituencies affected by noise and air pollution would put up a vocal challenge to the plans, too.
Alternatively, there is a respectable case for deferring this difficult political decision, to see how a very competitive aviation sector copes with the growth of demand for air travel.
As I have suggested previously, market forces could mean that priority would be given to business travellers at Heathrow, displacing leisure travellers to other airports – such as Stansted – which have plenty of spare capacity.The Conversation
David Metz is honorary professor of Transport Studies at UCL.