Boris Johnson says Heathrow’s 3rd runway should be ‘consigned to the dustbin’
In his first comments on the issue of Heathrow since becoming Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson has said the 3rd runway is a “fantasy” and should be “consigned to the dustbin.” Commenting on a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Heathrow, chaired by Tania Mathias, sets out 16 serious risks that could stop or delay Heathrow expansion, Boris Johnson said: “The study exposes in glaring detail the weaknesses and omissions in the Howard Davies Airports Commission report. As I’ve advocated for many years Heathrow expansion is the wrong choice, and if it is chosen it simply won’t get built.”… “The massive costs and enormous risks mean it’s undeliverable, and the taxpayer will be saddled with the bill for failure. While we are finding this out our international competitors will be further extending their competitive advantage over us. We need to consign this Heathrow fantasy to the dustbin. We need a better solution.” Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, and Boris are expected to campaign robustly against it. Neither Boris nor Zac believes Heathrow’s plans will never actually get built. Zac said: “In the 21st century no developed economy is looking to fly more planes directly over its capital city. If Heathrow expansion is given the green light, it will never take off.”
Boris Johnson says Heathrow should be ‘consigned to the dustbin’ ahead of decision on airport expansion
By Christopher Hope, chief political correspondent and Peter Dominiczak, political editor (Telegraph)
15 SEPTEMBER 2016
Heathrow expansion is a “fantasy” and should be “consigned to the dustbin”, Boris Johnson has said ahead of a decision on whether to expand the airport.
In his first comments on the issue since becoming Foreign Secretary, Mr Johnson backs a report from a Parliamentary group [the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) ] setting out detailed risks facing taxpayers from a new third runway. The report Heathrow-Expansion-A-Risk-Assessment
His remarks come after it emerged that Theresa May, the Prime Minister will give ministers a free vote on airport expansion, ensuring that none of her Cabinet is forced to resign over the issue.
Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, has also pledged to oppose any decision to expand Heathrow, and is expected to campaign robustly against a third runway.
Attention will now turn to Mrs May’s decision on which airport to expand after she on Thursday gave the go-ahead to the £18 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant, despite security concerns about China’s investment in the project.
The deal to build the plant was given the go-ahead after the Government ensured there were “significant new safeguards” on future foreign investment in nuclear plants.
Government sources also said that Britain’s security services will be given a veto over foreign investment in critical infrastructure projects in the wake of the Hinkley deal.
The cost of Hinkley will add £12 a year to a typical household energy bill by 2030, the Government said.
Mrs May is considering whether to proceed with a third runway at Heathrow, or approve a rival development at Gatwick instead.
Government sources suggested that she could even give the go-ahead to both projects, allowing her to impose restriction on each airport to dilute some of the local opposition. [Which shows a bizarre failure to understand the carbon implications of a runway, or the inability of both airports with new runways getting enough demand to make them profitable. AW note]
However, there is growing belief in Westminster that Heathrow will be expanded in some form as part of the plans.
Backing the report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Heathrow, which sets out 16 serious risks that could stop or delay expansion of the airport, Mr Johnson said: “The study exposes in glaring detail the weaknesses and omissions in the Howard Davies Airports Commission report. As I’ve advocated for many years Heathrow expansion is the wrong choice, and if it is chosen it simply won’t get built.”
The Foreign Secretary added: “The massive costs and enormous risks mean it’s undeliverable, and the taxpayer will be saddled with the bill for failure. While we are finding this out our international competitors will be further extending their competitive advantage over us. We need to consign this Heathrow fantasy to the dustbin. We need a better solution.”
It this week emerged that Mr Johnson has been excluded from the Cabinet committee that will decide on airport expansion. [It is normal for Ministers with relevant departments to be on this sort of sub-committee, so it may not be unusual for Boris, as Foreign Secretary, not to be included. AW note]
Sources said that Mr Johnson will still “contribute” despite not being a member of the committee, which is chaired by Mrs May.
Mr Johnson’s comments suggest that he still intends to campaign wholeheartedly against expansion of Heathrow even if Mrs May decides to authorise the plans.
Mr Johnson supports expansion of airports in the South East but believes Heathrow is undeliverable.
He has campaigned against Heathrow expansion for years, making it a central plank of his manifesto as mayor of London.
Zac Goldsmith, [who founded the APPG and used to be] the chairman of the APPG, said: “Heathrow expansion has been suffering a slow death for decades. This report should be a final nail in the coffin. [Dr Tania Mathias is now the chairman].
“At a time when Britain is looking to take advantage of the opportunities post Brexit it would be disastrous to embark once again on the futile quest to expand Heathrow.
“In the 21st century no developed economy is looking to fly more planes directly over its capital city. If Heathrow expansion is given the green light, it will never take off. The project will simply become a metaphor for inertia at the very time Britain needs to be going for growth.”
And Theresa Villiers, a former Cabinet minister, said: “Why expand Heathrow when, as this report shows, you could expand Gatwick for half the cost, in half the time and with a fraction of the environmental impact?”
A leaked document last week disclosed that Mrs May is considering waiving Cabinet “collective responsibility” when Parliament votes on whether to expand airports in the South East.
David Cameron, the former prime minister, did so ahead of the EU referendum, allowing members of his Cabinet to campaign for either side.
The decision on whether to build a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, expected in October, comes after more than 15 years of delays by both Labour and Conservative governments.
Mr Johnson, the MP for Uxbridge in west London, has previously said that he is prepared to lie down “in front of bulldozers” to stop a third runway from being built, and was heavily opposed to expansion as mayor of London.
Ms Greening, a former transport secretary and MP for Putney in south-west London, makes clear her opposition to Heathrow on her website.
It says that she “will continue to stand up for the thousands of residents who are concerned about aircraft noise and keep working to make sure our local community is listened to”.
As transport secretary in the Coalition, she said she would find it “very difficult” not to resign if the Government decided to expand Heathrow. She has indicated, however, that she could stay on in Cabinet now that she no longer holds the transport brief.
London mayor Boris Johnson warns expanded Heathrow will not help Teesside connections
Boris Johnson has alerted business and political leaders in Teesside that they face the prospect of not regaining its aviation route to Heathrow, even with a 3rd Heathrow runway. The number of British cities served by Heathrow has fallen from 18 routes in 1990 to just 7 today. Teesside has not had a London connection since 2009 when flights from Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) to Heathrow were scrapped. Boris has written to 11 regions and more than 480 key UK businesses to highlight the “staggering” fact the Airports Commission’s own analysis has forecast that an expanded Heathrow would accommodate even fewer domestic routes. This would mean there would only be 4 regional airports with Heathrow flights, rather than 7 now. It is therefore increasingly unlikely DTVA will regain its connection. Boris, of course, instead wants his “Boris Island” airport in the Thames estuary …People in Teeside can already fly to Amsterdam or Schiphol to connect to international flights. DVTA wants to reposition itself to focus on business routes, expanding general aviation activity and broadening the base of aviation-related activity on the site – to stay afloat.
Boris writes to all MPs and Peers to say 3rd runway at Heathrow ‘will fail on every level’
London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, a potential successor to PM David Cameron, said a 3rd Heathrow runway was doomed to fail, complicating an already fraught issue for the government. The Airports Commission said the runway would offer Britain the best way of adding long-haul routes to new markets that it said were “urgently required”. But Boris said the report itself showed a Heathrow runway would not solve capacity issues, and its own figures indicate it would lead to fewer domestic routes and very little increase in new long haul routes. “Their report very clearly shows that a third runway will fail both London and the UK on every level.” Boris and Justine Greening have sent a dossier to about 1,500 MPs and Peers setting out the flaws in the Commission’s report. They say the runway would harm attempts by George Osborne, Johnson’s leadership rival, to build a “northern powerhouse”. Boris still wants a new airport in the Thames estuary, that was rejected by the Commission. He said: “The Airports Commission has spent several years in the production of a gigantic ball of wool that they are now attempting to pull over the eyes of the nation.”
A THIRD RUNWAY AT HEATHROW WOULD BE A HUGE MISTAKE
The whole objective of expanding Heathrow was, in theory, to answer this basic question. So it is amazing to find that the Davies solution fails the very test he sets, failing to connect us abroad – and even at home.
Heathrow expansion has been explicitly sold to MPs as a way of helping links between London and the rest of the UK. But look at what Davies is forecasting. The number of UK connections goes not up but DOWN, from seven to four. I am not sure that they are aware of this in Scotland or Northern Ireland indeed in the Northern Powerhouse. Some British cities will be bitterly disappointed not to gain the promised links, and some will actually lose. And how many more long-haul destinations will we get? All of – wait for it – seven! By 2030.
The traffic would be so bad that we would need a new congestion charge in west London
There is absolutely no hope, on this plan, of catching up with our European rivals, let alone Dubai or any of the rapidly growing airports of Asia or America. You might wonder how this can be. How can we be so incompetent as to expand Heathrow, and produce such a pitiful increase in connectivity?
The answer is simple lack of capacity, combined with the constraints that Sir Howard has been obliged to place on his solution. In the hope of restricting the very serious increase in noise pollution, he has been forced to call for a partial ban on night flights. This would reduce Heathrow’s existing connections with Hong Kong, Singapore and China, and deter low-cost carriers whose business model needs early morning and late evening flights – and all this for a night flight “ban” that would actually increase the number of nocturnal noise victims by 33 per cent.
You might say the obvious solution to this capacity crunch is to build not just a third but a fourth runway. And yet this option, of course, is explicitly ruled out. A fourth runway would cause such an inferno of noise and pollution in west London that Sir Howard calls, preposterously, for a legal “ban” on the very idea.
What a new runway at Heathrow might look like (Graphic: PA)
Now people may take these “bans” – on night flights and a fourth runway – with a pinch of salt. Heathrow Airport itself doesn’t accept them. It may be that these are more fingers-crossed promises, and that the whole exercise is fundamentally dishonest. But we must take Sir Howard at his word. In which case we would get a third runway that won’t perceptibly increase British links with the rest of the world, and that contrives to REDUCE domestic links, and with no possibility of further expansion.
This would be achieved at colossal and so far unacknowledged expense to the taxpayer. The bill for the third runway is currently put at £22.6 billion, including £5 billion for surface access. As Willie Walsh has been making clear, there is no way the airlines (mainly BA) are going to pay. The transport costs, says Transport for London, are nearer £15-20 billion. The whole bill is probably above £40 billion to the public purse. And the environmental damage is massive – another 250,000 people afflicted by noise pollution, taking the total to one million. No other society is contemplating such a step backwards.
Even on Sir Howard’s wildly over-optimistic figures, there would be another 28,000 people suffering noise of over 70 decibels. That is horrendously loud. Then there is the damage to air quality in London. This legal obstacle is so serious that the Davies report bizarrely proposes that we should build the runway – and then only use it if we can clean up the air.
As Sir Howard says, the traffic would be so bad that we would need a new congestion charge in west London; and all this misery for a solution that will be obsolete as soon as it is built.
If the Government wants to be long-termist it should go for the truly long- term solution, a four-runway hub, and the logical place is in the Thames estuary. The GDP growth unleashed would dwarf Heathrow, with 50 per cent more routes overall, double the number of domestic routes, to say nothing of the huge scope for much-needed housing and regeneration. That is what the Government should do – to stick with its principled stance, to keep its explicit manifesto promise.
This is the time to ignore the pleas of the largely foreign owners of Heathrow, and to back a solution that is better for hundreds of thousands of local people, better for the economy, and better for British business as well.