Archive material reveals the extent of new Prime Minister’s opposition to a 3rd runway at Heathrow over many years
Date added: July 16, 2016
Campaign group HACAN has unearthed archive material, from Theresa May’s website, which reveals that the new Prime Minister has been a fierce opponent of a third runway at Heathrow, for many years. Her comments on Heathrow since 2008 are copied here. For example, in January 2009 in response to the decision by the Labour Government to give the go-ahead to a 3rd runway, she said: “I know from all the letters and emails I get that many local people will be devastated by the Government’s decision. A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people. The Government’s promises on the environmental impact of this are not worth the paper they are written on – there are no planes currently on the market that would allow them to meet their noise and carbon dioxide targets. …. We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.” And “my constituents face the prospect of a reduction in their quality of life with more planes flying overhead, restriction in driving their cars locally and a far worse train service in Crossrail. I hope that the Secretary of State recognises that as a result of today’s announcement, nobody will take this Government seriously on the environment again.” In March 2008 she said: “The Government needs to show that expansion is consistent with national targets for tackling climate change and cutting CO2 emissions,” She has also consistently expressed concern about night flights.
Archive material reveals the extent of new Prime Minister’s opposition to a 3rd runway at Heathrow
By John Stewart, HACAN
Campaign group HACAN has unearthed archive material which reveals that the new Prime Minister Theresa May has been a fierce opponent of a third runway at Heathrow. The information comes from material posted on the Prime Minister’s old website (1).
In response to the decision by the Labour Government to give the go-ahead to a third runway in 2009, May said:
“I know from all the letters and emails I get that many local people will be devastated by the Government’s decision. A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people. The Government’s promises on the environmental impact of this are not worth the paper they are written on – there are no planes currently on the market that would allow them to meet their noise and carbon dioxide targets. As I suspected all along, the Government paid no attention to the opinions expressed by members of the public and have decided to push ahead with expansion despite all the environmental warnings. We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.”https://web.archive.org/web/20130103045701/http://www.tmay.co.uk/news/111/theresa-speaks-out-against-governments-decision-to-approve-a-third-runway-at-heathrow
The archives also show that May has consistently expressed concern about night flights.
HACAN chair John Stewart said, “There must now be a real question mark over a third runway. Heathrow will argue that its proposals now offer more to residents than the 2009 plan but these archives make very clear that we have a Prime Minister who has expressed strong opposition to Heathrow expansion.”
Notes for Editors:
(1). The key links (See the actual content on these links, copied below)
Theresa May has been praised by the Executive Director of ‘Friends of the Earth’, Andy Atkins, for playing her part in driving the Climate Change Bill through Parliament and into law. The Bill establishes a legally-binding set of carbon budgets which run until 2050 when the UK must have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 1990 levels.
Theresa said, “I am thrilled to see that after years of Conservative pressure, we have finally passed a necessary and ambitious piece of legislation on Climate Change. Britain is the first country in the world to formally bind itself to cut greenhouse emissions and I strongly believe this will improve our national and economic security.”
“To stay reliant on fossil fuels would mean tying ourselves to increasingly unstable supplies which could endanger our energy security and the Climate Change and Energy Bills mark an important step for both the health of our economy and the health of our nation. It is now vital that we stick to these targets. I will continue to put pressure on the Government over the third runway at Heathrow as an extra 222,000 flights a year would undermine our national targets and seriously damage the health of the local community.”
May’s hostility to new Heathrow runway revealed in deleted files
By Graeme Paton (The Times)
The prime minister’s attacks on airport expansion have been unearthed years later, writes Graeme Paton
A third runway at Heathrow would devastate the lives of thousands of people living under the flight path, Theresa May warned while in opposition.
A deleted web archive shows that the prime minister made repeated attacks on plans for development of the airport, in west London, while serving in the shadow cabinet under David Cameron in the late 2000s. In one statement she predicted that a third runway would result in “additional flights, increased noise and more pollution”, insisting that the country needed a “better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow”.
The comments underline the scale of opposition to Heathrow previously voiced by Mrs May, the MPfor Maidenhead, which lies 15 miles to the west of the airport.
The revelation will create further speculation that the new leadership may be hostile to the £17.6 billion third runway scheme, in the face of mounting pressure to expand Gatwick airport instead.
Yesterday it emerged that Philip Hammond, the new chancellor, has previously called for Gatwick to be expanded and given a super-fast rail link to Heathrow, creating a “Heathwick” hub.
Other key figures in the new cabinet such as Boris Johnson, foreign secretary, and Justine Greening, education secretary, are openly hostile to the Heathrow proposal.
The disclosure was made as Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, used a speech yesterday to urge Mrs May to approve a second runway at Gatwick instead, insisting that it was the better option for London.
He made the appeal despite the fact that expansion of Heathrow was the overwhelming recommendation of the government-created airports commission last year. It found that Heathrow would generate far greater economic benefits and would link Britain to a better range of profitable long-haul destinations.
Airlines have also strongly backed the expansion of Heathrow.
Sources close to the airport have insisted that Mrs May’s views on the subject are more nuanced than those of other critical Conservative MPs — suggesting that she would be swayed by the commission’s recommendation when a final decision is taken on expansion in the months ahead.
However, anti-Heathrow activists unearthed a web archive yesterday that revealed her to be a fierce opponent of the airport while in opposition in the mid-to-late 2000s. Pages from the MP’s website, which appear to have been archived, contained one press release from early 2009 voicing anger over the previous Labour government’s decision to approve a third runway.
She said her constituents faced the “prospect of a reduction in their quality of life with more planes flying overhead” from Heathrow.
“I know from all the letters and emails I get that many local people will be devastated by the government’s decision,” she said.
“A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people.”
In 2008, before Labour made its decision on the matter, she said: “I hope that the government will recognise the widespread hostility to Heathrow expansion and say no to a third runway.”
When the new coalition government cancelled the third runway she released a further statement saying: “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect.”
The material was obtained by the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise.
Heathrow supporters insist that any criticism of the airport in the past is irrelevant, as the third runway scheme now envisaged is very different to plans submitted under Labour.
Yesterday Mr Khan threw his weight behind a second runway at Gatwick in his first big speech on airport expansion since winning the mayoral election in May. It came as the West Sussex airport announced a £200 million investment in the airport to expand its north and south terminals, upgrade its shopping facilities and create larger immigration halls.
“There’s now one obvious choice for Theresa May to take: a second runway here at Gatwick,” he said.
A Heathrow spokesman countered: “The airports commission disagree with Sadiq Khan and Gatwick. Following an independent, £20 million, two-and-a-half-year deep-dive into the issue of airport capacity, they confirmed that Heathrow expansion could provide the capacity the UK needs more easily and quickly than any other option.
“Brexit makes the commission’s conclusion that, with Heathrow expansion ‘the benefits are significantly greater, for business passengers, freight operators and the broader economy’, even more persuasive.”