Theresa May to personally chair Cabinet sub-committee on possible new runway
The decision by the Cabinet on what to do about a new runway is to be taken by a sub-committee, named the Economic Affairs (Airports) sub-Committee. This was set up in July 2015. Its members then were David Cameron, George Osborne, Sajid Javid, Patrick McLoughlin, Liz Truss, David Mundell, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd, Oliver Letwin and Mark Harper. At that time, MPs with possibly compromised positions, or those against a Heathrow runway, were left off it – explained by their departments not being the relevant ones for inclusion. These were Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Justine Greening. Since the arrival of Theresa May, everything has changed. It has been announced that she will personally chair the committee (Cameron chaired it before) and that its new membership will be announced shortly. The constituencies of Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson (PM, Chancellor and Foreign Secretary) are all intensely affected by Heathrow. Theresa May has been very guarded in her comments over the past 6 years. However in May 2010 she welcomed the cancellation of the Heathrow runway and added: “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect on the Maidenhead and Twyford areas by increasing levels of noise and pollution, and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.”
Theresa May to personally chair Cabinet committee for Heathrow expansion decision
PM wants decision over airport expansion by October
By JOE MURPHY (Evening Standard)
Theresa May will personally chair a Cabinet committee to decide on Heathrow’s third runway plan, the Evening Standard has learned.
The Prime Minister will lead a thorough review of the evidence — and aims to announce the much-delayed decision within the Government’s current target of October. A new membership for the Economic Affairs (Airports) sub-Committee is to be announced shortly.
Justine Greening, the Education Secretary and Putney MP, who is widely regarded as the Cabinet’s most diehard opponent of Heathrow, is not likely to be a member, say Whitehall insiders.
The Prime Minister was returning to work full-time today after her Swiss walking holiday, with the critical issue of airport expansion high on her list of priorities.
Supporters of Mrs May insist she will act in the national interest, rather than be swayed by night flight noise protests in her Maidenhead constituency. But she was among five Cabinet ministers with seats close to flight paths who were kept off the decision-making committee under David Cameron.
Tory MP Crispin Blunt, who chairs the Gatwick Coordination Group which is pro-Heathrow expansion and against a second runway at Gatwick, said: “It’s her call to make. Although she has a constituency interest, she has got to put the country’s interests first.”
John Stewart, of anti-runway group Hacan, predicted that Mrs May would be more sympathetic to people suffering airport noise because of her local issues. He said: “This suggests she is going to have quite a fundamental look at the issues. I’m sure she will try to act for the national interest but there is no question that as an MP whose constituency is so close to Heathrow she will be affected by local opinion.”
It is widely believed at Westminster that Mr Cameron was about to announce the go-ahead for Heathrow expansion before his resignation derailed the process a year after the Airports Commission recommended the move, subject to noise and air quality tests.
Speculation that Mrs May might try to rush a decision in a “September window” after ministers return from holiday is being dismissed by Whitehall sources. Instead they are talking of a decision coming “by the end of the year”.
Members of the old committee who might carry on include Business Secretary Greg Clark and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.
Much earlier back in May 2010:
20 May 2010
Theresa May has welcomed the Government’s decision to cancel the third runway project at Heathrow Airport. The third runway, which was planned by the previous Government, would have resulted in additional flights and increased noise and pollution in the Maidenhead and Twyford areas, and was opposed by Theresa and many local residents.
The commitment to scrap the third runway project is contained in the coalition government’s ‘Programme for Government’, published today.
Theresa said, “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome to cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect on the Maidenhead and Twyford areas by increasing levels of noise and pollution, and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.”
and more on her statements on Heathrow over the years here
Cabinet ‘stitch-up’ on Heathrow: Cameron chairing runway sub-Committee, locking out ministers who oppose 3rd runway
On the day MPs left for their summer break on 21st July, the Cabinet Office slipped out the names of 10 senior Tories on the Economic Affairs (Airports) sub-Committee. This committee will consider what to do about a new runway. Chaired by David Cameron it includes vocal supporters of a 3rd Heathrow runway including Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Sajid Javid. There are concerns that the committee’s membership deliberately excludes the Cabinet members (Justine Greening, Philip Hammond, Theresa May, Theresa Villiers, Greg Hands – and even Boris). Also on the Committee are: Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, Environment Secretary Liz Truss, Scotland Secretary David Mundell, Communities Secretary Greg Clark, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin and Chief Whip Mark Harper. The make up of the Committee is seen as indicating that David Cameron is ready to over-rule concerns from ministers who oppose the runway, and suggests the final decision will not be made by the Cabinet as a whole. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, said: ‘It certainly looks like a stitch-up. It could be Cameron is going for a solution he believes will work in the short-term but could backfire in the medium term because some of the Cabinet ministers who are against a third runway feel so strongly that it could be a resigning issue.’