The former Chairman of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, and a Commissioner on the Airports Commission, Sir John Armitt, have written to MPs urging them to vote in favour of a 3rd runway at Heathrow after the Cabinet approved the government’s plans earlier this week. Neither of them has been working on aviation issues recently and, frankly, their letter illustrates that they probably have not kept up with the details. But MPs will probably be persuaded, by this further lobbying on behalf of the government and Heathrow. They gloss over, as of course, does the DfT, the difficult issues of noise, air pollution, impact on the regions, cost to the taxpayer, carbon emissions etc. Their only focus is that the runway might prevent the UK being “inward-facing” after Brexit, and that it “meets the test of the national interest” (glossing over local impacts). To show just how ill-informed their letter is, that “In respect of aviation noise, our analysis indicated that the number of people affected by an expanded airport would be fewer than at Heathrow today.” A letter with a good chance of being put straight into hundreds of MPs’ waste (recycling) bins?
Former Airports Commission chair and Sir John Armitt urge MPs to back Heathrow third runway in summer vote
By Alexandra Rogers (City AM)
The former Chairman of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies, and a Commissioner on the Airports Commission, Sir John Armitt, have written to MPs urging them to vote in favour of a third runway at Heathrow after the Cabinet approved the government’s controversial expansion plans earlier this week.
Sir Howard Davies and Sir John Armitt said the impression among other countries with rival hub airports was that the UK was being “increasingly inward-facing and having limited ambition to expand its reach, even as it navigates the uncertainty caused by its impending departure from the European Union”.
It said that while other UK airports such as Gatwick provided a “promising” location for expansion, none were matched by Heathrow in terms of the volume of long-haul routes.
It said Gatwick and other airports such as Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, while being of “huge value” to their regional economies, tended to duplicate routes already served by Heathrow rather than adding to the existing network.
They said their “firm view” was that the third runway met the test of the national interest and urged MPs to vote in favour of the policy.
However, the plans approved by Cabinet haven’t been unanimously well received.
The London Assembly and the GLA Conservatives both stated their opposition to the north west runway. Tory member Tony Arbour said it was “with sorrow” that he stood against his party and called on the mayor and the assembly to do “whatever they can do derail these proposals”.
Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, who proposed the motion to reject Heathrow, said: “The case for a third runway was based on a ‘number of false claims’, including a lack of capacity at other airports such as Gatwick.
“A third runway will create noise disturbance for a further 300,000 people and add to higher levels of air pollution in parts of London where air pollution already exceeds illegal levels,” she said.
“We can ensure we retain international connections without following the foolish option of the incredibly expensive third Heathrow runway. A third Heathrow runway comes at a huge price that is simply not worth paying for.”
The letter can be seen here: