John Redwood, MP for Wokingham, says Theresa May should drop Heathrow plan
John Redwood, the Conservative MP for Wokingham about 25 km west of Heathrow and under some of its flight paths, has said that the government should drop the three very huge projects they inherited from Gordon Brown and David Cameron. ie. Hinkley, HS2 and Heathrow. Each is expensive, highly contentious, and has been much delayed by indecision, argument and opposition. John Redwood was Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation, from May 2005 to December 2005, and Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, from June 1999 to February 2000. He believes all 3Hs should be scrapped, and there are many other good local projects that should be paid for instead. “I’m all for spending on better trains, power stations and airports, but I don’t want to throw too much money at projects that are so mired in rows and costs.” On Heathrow noise he says: “Unfortunately Heathrow has recently with NATS changed the routes and noise corridors, annoying many more residential areas near it. There was no proper consultation. When you want to expand you need to do better at showing you are a good and considerate neighbour.” …”More capacity can be provided through Northolt, Gatwick and other London area airports. Smaller quicker schemes could alleviate the pressures.”
JOHN REDWOOD Hinkley Point, HS2, Heathrow expansion: Theresa May would be better off scrapping all three
Former Tory minister says inherited projects from Brown and Cameron aren’t worth holding on to – though letting go will be difficult
BY JOHN REDWOOD, FORMER TORY CABINET MINISTER
18th September 2016 (The Sun)
THE government inherits three large projects from Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
Each of them is expensive.
Each is highly contentious.
Each of them begins with an H.
Each of them has been much delayed by indecision, argument and opposition.
[John Redwood was a government minister in the 1990’s before challenging John Major for the Conservative Party leadership].
The boldest thing to do would be to scrap them all and do other things that are cheaper, faster to build and more popular.
I would be the first to say we need more power generation, more slots for flights and more rail and road capacity.
I also buy into the government’s wish to spread prosperity around the country as a whole and build good projects outside the very congested London and the south east.
Nor do I begrudge spending serious money on having better transport and more power.
Hinckley Point nuclear reactor
Theresa May’s government has been saddled with Hinkley Point, HS2 and the Heathrow expansion – projects which make very little sense and would be better on the scrapheap
I just don’t think these three projects make much commercial or environmental sense.
The government has just decided that it has to press on with Hinkley, after a period when it was raising good problems with the project.
It entails building a French reactor with a mixture of French and Chinese money, guaranteed by offering a very high energy price over the whole planned life of the station.
A country like ours with a big deficit on our foreign accounts does not need to have to send enormous sums of money out every year to pay for a big new power station.
We could build and finance our own electricity and save the big flow of money abroad. Some worry about whether the technology can be brought on stream quickly and to budget. Some are concerned about the security of the whole project.
The government clearly decided in the end the project had gone too far to stop. It is true the Chinese would be angry about cancellation. The French Unions and almost half the EDF Board would have been thrilled by termination of the deal, but the French government and the majority of the Board of EDF had gone to some lengths to defend the project and would have been unhappy with a UK pull out. So the issue now turns to how we will build and finance future power stations.
I urge the government to see that we need more energy capacity here in the UK. We should not be relying on imports through inter-connectors where all the money we pay for our electricity is paid out to foreigners. Nor should we need to ask foreign investors to pay for the next one.
There is plenty of money around in the UK to invest. It would be much better for the interest on the loans and the dividends on the shares to be paid to ourselves at home.
Now the issue is what we will do differently when we build more power stations – the money shouldn’t need to come from overseas.
HS2 is also difficult.
It is to some a symbol of our commitment to the North, and it has gone a long way in planning. The problems are still there. It will be very costly to rebuild Euston to receive HS2 trains whilst trying to keep the station open for business. Dear tunnels are needed to try to reduce the scar it will make on our landscape and the noise it will generate for homes nearby.
It is forecast to make a big loss for taxpayers. It will rely on taking many passengers off existing train services which in their turn will have financial problems to overcome. It runs the risk of bringing more people and business into London from Birmingham rather than strengthening the economy out of London.
If it was such a good project as it promoters say you would expect there to be private money available to pay for it and spare the poor taxpayer at least some of the up front cost.
Clearly there is little appetite for this, so I am not the only one who thinks it is a poor investment. There are so many more worthwhile train projects that would relieve overcrowding on commuter routes into our major cities around the UK. There are exciting plans to link great northern and Midlands cities with new train tracks. These could be much worthier projects. We are not short of seats out of London to the north at 7 am in the morning.
We are short of seats into Manchester, Birmingham, London and other big cities from nearby as commuters struggle to work. Meanwhile new technologies that offer more flexibility and even greater speed are ignored in favour of a fast train technology that has been around for many decades.
Heathrow is Britain’s largest airport – but smaller schemes at other London airports could alleviate pressures on Heathrow, which is bursting at the seams. More of a commercial case can be made for Heathrow. It is our number one airport and it is bursting at the seams.
Unfortunately Heathrow has recently with NATS changed the routes and noise corridors, annoying many more residential areas near it. There was no proper consultation. When you want to expand you need to do better at showing you are a good and considerate neighbour.
Trying to get air quality to acceptable levels and noise down is proving very difficult. Heathrow expansion also comes at a big cost to the public purse, as there will need to be much improved road and rail links into the centre. These will especially expensive given the high cost properties that stand in the way.
More capacity can be provided through Northolt, Gatwick and other London area airports. Smaller quicker schemes could alleviate the pressures.
Now is the time for the government to drop its aitches. Many other good local projects could come forward. I’m all for spending on better trains, power stations and airports, but I don’t want to throw too much money at projects that are so mired in rows and costs.