City ramps up pressure on politicians to push ahead with Heathrow runway, after likelihood of delays
The City of London Corporation has taken the opportunity of the Lib Dem Party Conference to urge the party “to not stand in the way of Heathrow expansion”. The Corporation’s policy chair Catherine McGuinness, said: “Increased airport capacity at Heathrow is near the top of the list when we speak to firms about what can do to help them trade more, create jobs and invest for the future.” (Many other surveys of businesses over the years do not show this – but it depends on which firms are sampled). Speaking at the party conference yesterday, Lib Dem leader Vince Cable (a long term opponent of the runway) said: “I want our party to remain where we were, which is opposed to Heathrow expansion, strong on the environment, protective of our climate change obligations, but committed to support business, but in a practical way that rebalances the UK.” The Labour party is also known to be very divided on the issue of Heathrow, with a lot of opposition. Some Labour MPs have been misled by inaccurate forecasts of jobs that the runway might create. Big business tends to stand with its colleague, Heathrow. The CBI wants progress on the runway quickly, and the Institute of Directors said after waiting years, they want to see “spades in the ground” at Heathrow.
City ramps up pressure on politicians to push ahead with Heathrow expansion after fresh jitters over delays
By Rebecca Smith (City AM)
The City has issued a rallying cry to MPs to push ahead with Heathrow airport’s expansion, warning that delays could hamper financial and professional services firms’ ability to do business globally.
The City of London Corporation today urged the Liberal Democrats, whose party conference is currently underway, “to not stand in the way of Heathrow expansion”.
The Corporation’s policy chair Catherine McGuinness, said: “Increased airport capacity at Heathrow is near the top of the list when we speak to firms about what can do to help them trade more, create jobs and invest for the future.”
Speaking at the party conference yesterday, Lib Dem leader Vince Cable said: “I want our party to remain where we were, which is opposed to Heathrow expansion, strong on the environment, protective of our climate change obligations, but committed to support business, but in a practical way that rebalances the UK.”
The Labour party is also reportedly mulling a vote against the third runway at Heathrow airport.
Meanwhile, Lord Adonis, head of the National Infrastructure Commission, said last week he thought the chances of a final decision on expansion materialising next year is “no more than 50:50”.
Adonis told the London Infrastructure Summit that a combination of factors including foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who has been a vocal opponent of Heathrow expansion, “will conspire against a decision being taken next year”.
The former transport secretary also warned that a review into air quality could delay the process by another five years.
The fresh jitters over delays come after transport secretary Chris Grayling announced earlier this month there would be yet another consultation on Heathrow expansion plans, delayed due to the General Election in June.
A final national policy statement (NPS) is now to go before the House of Commons in the first half of next year, a push back from the original plan of winter 2017-18.
Despite this, Grayling is adamant the new consultation will not hamper Heathrow’s timeline.
“This government remains committed to realising the benefits that airport expansion could bring, and I can confirm that we do not expect this additional period of consultation to impact on the timetable for parliamentary scrutiny of the NPS,” he said earlier this month.
But business groups remain concerned over delays to an already drawn-out process.
A spokesperson for the Confederation of British Industry warned: “We can’t allow progress to stall on this, or other major infrastructure projects, if we want to set ourselves up for success post-Brexit.”
Meanwhile, Edwin Morgan, interim director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “Businesses have already been waiting years for this and so are keen to see spades in the ground.”
The Institute of Directors want government to allow two new runways – not just Heathrow
The Institute of Directors (IOD) are firmly convinced that people should fly more, and so the south east needs more runway capacity. They appear to be entirely convinced by the publicity Heathrow has put out about the alleged benefits a 3rd runway would bring. But they want more than just one runway. The IODs wants the government, after the 8th June election, to build two more runways, and a follow-up Airports Commission be established. They want a fast-track commission be set up immediately to recommend locations for two additional runways within a year. Plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway need the draft National Policy Statement to be voted through parliament, perhaps early in 2018 and then several years of planning process. At the earliest the runway might be in use some time after 2025. Numbers of air passengers are rising quickly, as flying is so cheap and the moderately affluent in the UK get richer. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also called for the next government to enable a 2nd runway at Gatwick to help create a “megacity”. While Gatwick was shortlisted as a candidate for a new runway by the Airports Commission, other airports such as Stansted and Birmingham would be likely to push hard should a future opportunity emerge.
Group of business people, led by London First, again lobby Transport Secretary for airport expansion
More lobbying by big business backers of aviation expansion continues, as the try to persuade the government that everything must be done to expand current capacity, even before the runway they want gets built. They claim this is important for the UK economy, and necessary for the UK to “stay internationally competitive.” Some 52 business people have signed a letter to the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, published in the Telegraph (where else ?) putting their demands. They want ministers to act on interim recommendations made by the Airports Commission, such as more Heathrow flights, and improving rail access to Stansted and Gatwick. They want action quickly and presume that adding more runway capacity for more people to take more leisure flights will somehow boost “UK’s global competitiveness”.They also want an independent ombudsman to oversee changes to restrictions on the timing of flights at Heathrow, to try and get over opposition to more flights, and night flights, which is partly what prevents another Heathrow runway. They want more flights, regardless of the impacts on those overflown or living near airports.