Conservative MPs including Boris Johnson & Justine Greening are threatening to rebel over Heathrow 3rd runway
The Times has published a list, by Justine Greening MP, of 8 key reasons why there should NOT be a 3rd Heathrow runway. Times journalists also comment that it is likely the government will present the revised draft Airports NPS (ie. Heathrow runway proposal) to Parliament within two weeks. MPs then have to vote on the NPS within 21 sitting days – so in order to get all this through Parliament before the summer recess (starts 20th July) they have to start soon… Once the NPS has been approved, and adopted, the legal challenges against it can start. Only if Heathrow wins those can it start on details of planning its expansion. Justine Greening has been a long-term vociferous opponent of the runway. Boris Johnson has also been deeply opposed to it, but has not dared say anything publicly since being elevated to being Foreign Secretary. When there is a vote, Theresa May might be forced to rely on opposition parties to pass the runway plan, though Labour is also threatening to withhold support. The vote will come soon after a series of bruising debates over the EU Withdrawal Bill, with Downing Street reluctant to expend political capital on anything other than Brexit.
Conservatives ready to rebel over Heathrow
By Matt Chorley, Red Box Editor and Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent
June 1 2018, (The Times)
Proposals to create a third runway at the airport will face their first vote in the Commons this month
Conservative MPs including Boris Johnson are threatening to rebel over a third runway at Heathrow.
The prime minister may be forced to rely on opposition parties to pass the plan, though Labour is also threatening to withhold support.
Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, is expected to publish a revised airports national policy statement next week setting out the noise, air quality and cost requirements for a third runway. A vote must be held within 21 sitting days in parliament, giving the go-ahead for more detailed plans.
The vote will come soon after a series of bruising debates over the EU Withdrawal Bill, with Downing Street reluctant to expend political capital on anything other than Brexit.
Mr Johnson remains opposed to expansion at Heathrow having argued when he was the mayor of London for the “Boris Island” alternative. A two-mile runway is planned northwest of the existing airport, allowing an additional 260,000 flights a year by the end of 2025.
Two years ago Theresa May was forced to allow “exceptional and limited” cabinet dissent on the issue but the vote this month will be the first time it has been before the Commons since Mr Johnson became foreign secretary.
He remains opposed to the policy, but it is unclear whether he would vote against it or abstain.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, also opposes expansion of Heathrow, which is in his constituency, so Labour is unlikely to whip in favour of the plans but could offer a free vote.
A spokesman for Heathrow said that three quarters of MPs backed a new northwest runway.
RED BOX | COMMENT
June 1st 2018, (The Times)
Eight reasons why Heathrow expansion is a bad idea
By Justine Greening MP
- It’s polluting #1Air pollution created by Heathrow expansion is huge, in an area already breaching legal limits – Heathrow say there won’t be a single extra car journey having a 50 per cent bigger airport. I don’t think even they believe it. And they certainly have no plans how to make it happen.
- It’s expensive At £18 billion, it’s half as expensive again as the other option, Gatwick. Shoe-horning a new runway into a space that’s too small for it and also built up, means you need to expensively knock homes down and disrupt the road network. Which brings us onto the next point….
- Scotland will lose its domestic routes unless it pays upBecause Heathrow expansion is so expensive (see Reason 2), using slots on short, domestic routes isn’t worth it compared to another full flight to New York . Scotland will have to pay to keep them, or get cut off. SNP…I don’t think this is the sort of independence you had in mind is it? And if you’re finding money for airports, surely investing in Scotland’s point to point routes is smarter, not bailing out expensive Heathrow?
- The North will lose a big chunk of its transport budget“Expand an airport by 50 per cent and have no extra car journeys” means lots of public transport taxpayer money devoted to overseas owned Heathrow Airport Ltd’s public transport growth plan. Even Heathrow accept it will cost £5bn, but TfL have estimated it’s an extra £10-15bn on top of that for transport links. Money which instead could be spent on railways and roads for people in the rest of the country.
- It’s polluting #2Noise pollution will affect up to 3 million Londoners. Tip: if you’re going to have a really noisy airport, don’t built it in the most densely populated bit of your entire country. If that’s a mistake your country has already made, don’t make it worse. There’s no such thing as a “quiet” plane and no aviation company will focus on designing one because Heathrow is the only airport of its size in such a populated residential area – tech companies are rightly focused on more environmentally sustainable planes.
- Crash risk Crash risk goes up by 60 per cent over the most densely populated bit of the country. We allow hundreds of planes to fly over our city every day, Heathrow has a great safety record, but is it sensible in today’s world to actively choose to allow lots more? And how can that make any sense, when there’s a safer alternative, Gatwick, in a much less populated area?
- It’s financially riskyIf things go wrong, it’s the next Carillion. Heathrow Airport Ltd already has significant debt and is borrowing even more to build a third runway. It’s “overbid” with it’s third runway proposal. Someone has to pay for that. That could well come taxpayers’ way. Or passengers and airlines may foot the extra bill, in which case it’s more bad news for Scotland again (see Reason 3).
- Bad for Global BritainChoosing to expand the most expensive airport for more capacity is like choosing to expand the country’s most expensive power station and thinking that’s smart for more energy. It’s not. It bakes in inefficiency. It makes new routes to emerging markets even more uncompetitive. So much for buccaneering Britain.
We’re an island without an airport strategy. First, at least get on and add some more capacity where it is viable. Gatwick causes less air pollution, is much cheaper, is less noisy to far fewer people, supports Scotland routes more than Heathrow, needs much less transport investment, has flights over far fewer people, and is less risky to build as the space has been set aside for it for years.
But even that’s not a long term strategy. After that we need a smarter South East England and regional airports strategy reflecting that people want point to point flights. Who likes wasting time changing planes in a hub airport if you can fly direct?
Low cost carriers on point to point are moving into long haul already which could be just the market shift regional airports and our economy needs. We may be about to sign off on a hub airport strategy at the very moment the hub model is on the wane. Time to stop heading down the Heathrow cul-de-sac. Britain deserves better.
Justine Greening is Conservative MP for Putney and a former cabinet minister