Patrick McLoughlin just before being moved from Transport. With Theresa May becoming PM, [ previous ]Transport Secretary urges quick decision on South East runway
Patrick McLoughlin has said Theresa May must get on and make a runway decision quickly, if the timetable to get the runway built – by 2030 – is not to slip. He said: “So long as we can get a decision as quickly as we can in October, we can still stick to the timetable that was set out in Davies.” He said the decision was for the Prime Minister, and “Parliament rises next week so in all honesty I still think we’re probably looking at around about the October period. I don’t think this is a decision that could be made when Parliament is not sitting.” Parliament does sit from 5th to 15th September. On 30th June he had said: ‘Clearly any announcement on airports capacity would have to be made with the House in session and, being realistic given recent events, I cannot now foresee an announcement until at least October.’ He said in February: “Basically, there are 6 months for the planning inquiry and examination in public; 3 months for the planning inspector to report to the Secretary of State; 3 months for the Secretary of State to consider, report and announce a decision; a 6-week period for any potential judicial reviews; and within that period there are also parliamentary occasions when Parliament can take a vote on the issues.” The timetable the government is working to is a runway by 2030, though Heathrow and Gatwick would prefer it to be by 2025.
Transport Secretary urges quick decision on South East runway
13.7.2016 (Press Association)
The expansion timetable set out by the Airports Commission might be met only if incoming prime minister Theresa May makes a decision on which project to back by October, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has warned.
The commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, published its final report in July last year stating that a new runway was needed in south-east England by 2030 and recommending that Heathrow’s plan should go ahead.
But in December the Department for Transport announced that further investigation into noise, pollution and compensation was needed and last month Mr McLoughlin said the decision had been deferred until “at least October” following David Cameron’s resignation.
In an interview with the Press Association, the Transport Secretary stressed the importance of the decision being made as soon as possible.
Mr McLoughlin said: “So long as we can get a decision as quickly as we can in October, we can still stick to the timetable that was set out in Davies.”
The timing of the decision was “a case for the Prime Minister”, he said, adding: “Parliament rises next week so in all honesty I still think we’re probably looking at around about the October period.
“I don’t think this is a decision that could be made when Parliament is not sitting.”
Mr Cameron was expected to confirm whether projects at Heathrow or Gatwick would be supported shortly after the EU referendum, but the victory for the Leave campaign means the decision has been left for successor Mrs May. [It was expected that a decision, favouring Heathrow, would be made on 7th or 8th July, after a Leave victory in the Brexit Referendum. But the result in favour of Leave changed all that. AW note].
Business leaders have criticised the delay, with the British Chambers of Commerce claiming the Government was “missing a golden opportunity to stimulate business confidence”.
Patrick McLoughlin evidence to Transport Cttee – he “very much hoped” to give runway location decision by July
The Commons Transport Committee held an oral evidence session on 8th February, inviting Transport Secretary of State, Patrick McLoughlin, to comment on the decision by the government to delay a statement on the location of a possible new runway. The tone of the session was that the Committee was eager for a decision to be made rapidly, with concern that undue time was being taken. Mr McLoughlin explained that even an EU referendum in June would not rule out a decision before Parliament’s summer recess. He said though there has been a delay, partly due to air pollution problems and the VW “defeat” scandal, he hoped the government was ensuring all necessary research had been done, to minimise the chance of legal challenges causing yet further delays. The timetable the government is working to is a runway by 2030, though Heathrow and Gatwick would prefer it to be by 2025. Mr McLoughlin said he “very much hoped” there would be a statement to Parliament at least several days before summer recess (starts 21st July) to allow time for MPs to comment etc. He stressed how the 2008 Planning Act would make pushing a runway through fast, and gave the various timings, with only 6 months for a planning inquiry and examination in public.
Transport Select Committee wants rapid decision on runway location – then sort out the problems later …..
The Commons Transport Select Committee, chaired by Louise Ellman (for years a strong advocate of a larger Heathrow) has published a report that wants the government to make a rapid decision on the location of a new south east runway. Ms Ellman says Patrick Mcloughlin should set out a clear timetable of the decision making process. He should also set out what research the government has already done and what remains to be done. The Committee wants a decision in order to, in its view, remove uncertainty for business so companies can be planning and investing. The report is entirely of the view that a runway is needed for links to emerging markets. It ignores the reality that most journeys are for leisure, and it ignores the huge costs to the taxpayer, of either scheme. The Committee wants a location decision, and somehow believes that all other environmental and infrastructure problems will then (magically?) be sorted out. They say: “… we believe that the noise and environmental effects can be managed as part of the pre-construction phase after a decision has been made on location, as can the challenge of improving surface access.” So decide first – with what is likely to be a bad decision – and work out how to deal with the intractable, and inevitable, problems later. Is that a sensible course of action for a responsible government?