Britain’s vote to leave the EU will potentially have far-reaching implications for the country’s transport system.
Perhaps, most pertinently from a timing point of view, is what happens to Heathrow?
The west London airport was favourite to be picked as the site for a new runway, with the government talking about making a final decision this year, possibly even this summer.
But that was when David Cameron was in charge. Boris Johnson has promised to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop expansion.
It is bound to form part of the Conservative leadership campaign. If so, you can forget an early decision.
If Mr Johnson is the new PM, that would seem to kill off Heathrow’s chances. Rival Gatwick is very much back in the game.
Also vulnerable, though much further along in terms of process, is the promised investment in high speed rail (HS2).
A government source has suggested that this vote won’t affect funding. However, HS2 is yet to be voted through Parliament and the new prime minister will have her or his own spending priorities.
Investment in Britain’s train services is also open to question.
Many of the country’s rail franchises are already controlled and operated by European state-owned companies from Germany, the Netherlands and France.
They all got the chance to bid for the business because of EU competition rules. In future, however, will that still be the case?
I asked the transport secretary that question a few months ago. He wasn’t quite sure.
New cars currently have to pass a European emissions test before they can go on sale.
Frankly, it’s done a poor job of protecting the air in recent years, even carmakers say it’s too weak, which is why it’s being tightened up considerably, starting in 2017.
So will our future cars have to pass the new, tougher EU pollution test?
One expert told me it’s likely to stay in some form, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to sell UK-built cars across the rest of Europe.
Heathrow statement on EU referendum result
A Heathrow spokesperson said:
“With today’s result, the case for expansion at Heathrow is stronger than ever before. Only Heathrow can help Britain be the great trading nation connecting all regions of the UK to the world. It is the keystone that connects businesses of every size to markets across the world as the UK’s only global hub airport.
“Global connections are critical for a new outward-looking UK to help our businesses and economy to thrive – and with expansion we can deliver up to 40 new destinations on top of the 83 we serve now.
“We are confident that the Government will make the right choice for the future of the UK, putting the interests of the country first.
“We look forward to working with the Government and its agencies on next steps.”
Decision on second runway at Gatwick Airport set to be delayed due to EU Referendum result
June 24, 2016
By Thomas Macintosh (Surrey Mirror)
A decision on whether or not a second runway should be built at Gatwick Airport is likely to be delayed again, due to the result of the EU Referendum.
The Surrey Mirror understands a decision on the controversial plan will now be put back even further, after Britain voted to leave the EU.
It was recommended, in July last year by the Sir Howard Davies Commission, that Heathrow should be allowed to build a third runway, rather than Gatwick be allowed to build a second.
But delays since then had raised hopes from those supporting Gatwick’s expansion that the Government could ignore this recommendation. And in the light of today’s events, a spokesman for the Sussex airport said it was “still very much in the game”.
A decision had initially been expected by the end of 2015 but was then pushed back to this summer.
However, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave Europe, and David Cameron’s subsequent resignation this morning, mean that decision is expected to be pushed back again.
Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, was a strong advocate for remaining in the European Union, and agrees the referendum result is likely to lead to another delay.
“It is going to be interesting to see the economic impact [of leaving the EU],” he said. “In business we like a plan. Instability and no plan [on Gatwick] is obviously disconcerting.
“I think that the bigger picture is that this decision [to leave the EU] jeopardises all infrastructure throughout the country, one of which is increase in runway growth and capacity.
“The Prime Minister has made the decision to stand down, so any decision that was going to be made [this summer] will likely be pushed back. Then it depends on who is the next Prime Minister, each one will have their own views on runways and how much of a priority it is. Some are very anti-Heathrow, but that is going to be a decision which will likely be taken at a later date.
“Once again we are in limbo.”
Gatwick has not issued an official statement on Brexit. However, airport spokesman William Boyack told the Mirror: “We haven’t had an indication [that the decision will be delayed] but it was always a possibility. The political situation has changed quite significantly. We need to keep a close eye on that and how it affects the campaign.”
Apparently referring to Boris Johnson’s strong opposition to Heathrow expansion, he added: “Looking at the likely Prime Ministerial candidates, Gatwick is very much still in the game.” [Boris has, in fact, often said he does not back a Gatwick runway].
Mr Johnson is favourite [not entirely ….] to be the next Prime Minister. He famously advocated a new airport, dubbed Boris Island, an idea slammed by critics as “financially, geographically and environmentally wrong”.
Reigate MP Crispin Blunt [who wants a Heathrow runway, in order to protect his constituents from the horror of a Gatwick runway] said this morning’s seismic developments should have no impact on the runway decision and when it is delivered. “This decision should be made as soon as possible,” he said. “We need to get on with it. I am hoping we will get an announcement before the summer recess [of Parliament on July 21].”
He also said the potential installation of Mr Johnson as Prime Minister should make no difference, as his opinions should hold no more sway than those of any other constituency MP.
In October 2015 George Osbourne, who may be Mr Johnson’s main rival for the role, was understood to be ready to back a new runway at Heathrow and is believed to have ruled out a second runway at Gatwick.
Theresa May, who is also seen as possible contender, is understood to be against expansion at Heathrow as she represents many constituents who would be affected by any extra flightpaths.
Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, which has long fought against a second runway, said the group’s committee would be discussing Mr Cameron’s decision to resign over the next week.
He added: “This obviously raises a situation of great confusion and uncertainty and it makes it more possible that the runway decision will be postponed.”
The Department for Transport has been approached for a comment.
Simon Calder: What does Brexit mean for British tourists travelling to Europe?
With Britain, somewhat unexpectedly, voting for Brexit there may be changes in the way airlines operate between the UK and the EU, and there may be other implications for air travel from currency changes. Simon Calder, in the Independent, sets out some of the issues and what might happen. The exchange rate of the £ against the $ or the € may not only make holidays, to the EU or elsewhere, more expensive – but an increase in the price of jet fuel could happen if the £ weakens against the $. Through the “Open skies” agreement, since since 1994, any EU airline has been free to fly between any two points in Europe. This allowed easyJet and Ryanair to flourish, and forced “legacy” carriers such as BA, Air France and Lufthansa to cut fares. The UK may have to negotiates a similar arrangement to Norway, within the European Economic Area (EEA), in which case little would change. But if Britain does not join the EEA, every route between the UK and the EU might need to be renegotiated on a bilateral basis. The bureaucratic logjam would be immense. Similarly, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have easy access to America because of an EU-US treaty on open skies. The freedom for British airlines such as easyJet to fly within and between EU countries could be curtailed; nations such as France and Italy have in the past been protectionist of their home airlines. And much more …..