No mention of backing for Heathrow runway in SNP manifesto (despite backing last year)
The SNP manifesto has come out, and despite the party saying last year that it backed the 3rd runway at Heathrow, there is no mention of it this time. There is a whole section on aviation policy, (p. 26 https://www.snp.org/manifesto ) but no mention of the runway. This is significant, coming only 7 months after the memorandum of understanding the SNP signed with Heathrow. (October 2016). The manifesto outlines that the SNP will press the UK Government to commit to the Open Skies Agreement in the Brexit negotiations, expand direct international connectivity, protect existing connections within the UK and press the UK Government to secure an exemption from air passenger duty on flights to and from the Highlands and Islands. On airspace policy, the SNP back the need to reform UK airspace and more community engagement in the formation of flight paths in future. The SNP backing for the Heathrow runway was based on economic forecasts that were wildly exaggerated and misleading, (the “up to £147 billion benefit to all the UK over 60 years” claim )and which even the DfT knows were wrong. The actual benefit to the UK is more likely perhaps £6 billion (over 60 years). The promises of new jobs etc are also now seen to have been inflated and misleading. Why would an independent Scotland want to depend on air freight going via Heathrow?
A SIGNIFICANT SILENCE IN SNP MANIFESTO ON HEATHROW
30th May 2017 (Stop Heathrow Coalition press release)
The SNP made a surprise move in their 2017 election manifesto, published on Tuesday, with no mention whatsoever of Heathrow expansion, despite a whole section on aviation policy (SNP Manifesto, p. 26 https://www.snp.org/manifesto )
The manifesto outlines that the SNP will press the UK Government to commit to the Open Skies Agreement in the Brexit negotiations, expand direct international connectivity, protect existing connections within the UK and to press the UK Government to secure an exemption from air passenger duty on flights to and from the Highlands and Islands. On airspace policy, the SNP back the need to reform UK airspace and more community engagement in the formation of flight paths in future.
There is no mention whatsoever of Heathrow expansion in the document, despite the Scottish Government signed a memorandum of understanding with Heathrow Airport in October 2016, however, this was based on economic indicators even the Department for Transport now reject as wildly overinflated (Table Further Review and Sensitivities Report, DfT, October 2016, p. 9 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/562160/further-review-and-sensitivities-report-airport-capacity-in-the-south-east.pdf )
Robert Barnstone, Coordinator of the Coalition, said: “This will appear to be a significant move by the SNP. It suggests there may be backtracking on their support for a third runway after all only a few months ago they were telling Heathrow a third runway had their full support. There are many signs that the Scottish Government are concluding that economic benefits to Scotland are nowhere near as high as they were lead to believe by Heathrow.”
The No 3rd Runway Coalition was established in March 2017 and comprises 18 community groups around Heathrow Airport, MPs (election candidates until 8 June 2017) from Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, NGOs such as Greenpeace and the Campaign Against Climate Change as well as five local authorities.
This is what the Manifesto says:
Connecting Scotland to the world
International connectivity plays an important role in facilitating trade, tourism and investment. Membership of the EU has helped open up skies across Europe, boosting the number of flights to and from Scotland, creating more choice for businesses and families.
SNP MPs will:
• press the UK government to commit to the Open Skies Agreement in Brexit negotiations to ensure there is no loss of flights to or from Scotland and our airports are not disadvantaged;
• work with the Scottish Government, Visit Scotland, Scottish Development International and UK departments to secure an expansion of international flights to and from Scotland, opening up new markets for trade and tourism;
• protect vital Scottish air connections to other parts of the UK;
• continue to work with local partners as part of City and Regional Deals to deliver improved connectivity including an Inverness Airport Rail Hub;
• ensure the UK government continues to work with the Scottish Government to secure an exemption from air passenger taxes on Highlands and Islands flights.
The current system for managing aviation noise is outdated and is in urgent need of reform. In the last Parliament, SNP MPs secured a UK government consultation on a new Independent Aviation Noise Authority to ensure communities are fully engaged in decisions by airports to alter flight paths. We will now push for the establishment of this body, ensuring that airspace changes are delivered with the approval of the community, without having an adverse impact on our environment
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