Environment minister Zac Goldsmith says ‘bonkers’ Heathrow expansion ‘unlikely’ to go ahead, and would not survive a proper review

Zac Goldsmith, the environment minister, said he did not believe the plans for a Heathrow 3rd runway would survive a government-commissioned review – despite the Commons backing it last year. In mid August, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the project could still be scrapped after questioning whether it “stacks up” financially.  Zac said of the runway plan: “I think it’s a bonkers scheme, and all the arguments that I’ve been using for the last ten years and repeating ad nauseam are true, in my view, and I see nothing to persuade me that they’re wrong… It’s currently out of government hands because it’s been through parliament…. Unfortunately, Parliament voted for it overwhelmingly – I’m still surprised by some of the MPs who voted for it, who nevertheless campaign heavily on things like climate change and air quality, but they did.”  He added that the airport will “struggle to come up with the cash”, so needing the Government to stomp up “really vast sums of money”, which the public would oppose. An “entirely objective” review into the plans would find that it was “a bad project”, and it may not survive the detailed planning and policy processes.
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Environment minister Zac Goldsmith says ‘bonkers’ Heathrow expansion ‘unlikely’ to go ahead

By: Nicholas Mairs

21st October 2019 (Politics Home)

Controversial plans to build a third runway at Heathrow airport are “unlikely” to go ahead despite having the support of MPs, minister Zac Goldmith has said.

Zac Goldsmith has been a major opponent to the expansion of Heathrow for years.

The environment minister, who has been a long-standing critic of the plan, said he did not believe that it would survive a government-commissioned review – despite the Commons backing it last year.

The intervention comes months after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the project could still be scrapped after questioning whether it “stacks up” financially.

[ Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggests Boris Johnson could scrap Heathrow third runway plan.   14th August ]

In an interview with PoliticsHome’s sister title, The House magazine, Mr Goldsmith said his opposition to expansion “hasn’t changed” since joining Boris Johnson’s government in July.

He said: “I think it’s a bonkers scheme, and all the arguments that I’ve been using for the last ten years and repeating ad nauseam are true, in my view, and I see nothing to persuade me that they’re wrong…

“It’s currently out of government hands because it’s been through parliament.

“Unfortunately, Parliament voted for it overwhelmingly – I’m still surprised by some of the MPs who voted for it, who nevertheless campaign heavily on things like climate change and air quality, but they did.”

He added that the airport will “struggle to come up with the cash”, therefore needing the Government to stomp up “really vast sums of money”, which the public would oppose.

Mr Goldsmith quit as MP for Richmond Park in protest at the plan in 2016, prompting a by-election which he lost to the Liberal Democrats, before reclaiming the seat months later at the snap election.

Boris Johnson is also against the move and vowed to lie down “in front of those bulldozers” to stop its construction when he was elected as the MP for South Uxbridge and Ruislip in 2015.

But Mr Goldsmith defended the Prime Minister for pursuing the policy, adding that there was “a difference from being a constituency MP and a mayor of London on the one hand, versus being prime minister on the other”.

“You can’t just pretend that parliament hasn’t voted overwhelmingly for Heathrow expansion,” he said.

“So he is in a more delicate, more complex position than someone like me, for example.”

He added that an “entirely objective” review into the plans would find that it was “a bad project”.

“Heathrow still has to go through all kinds of cumbersome planning and policy processes, and I’m not convinced that it’ll survive that,” he said.

https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/conservative-party/news/107414/excl-environment-minister-zac-goldsmith

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See earlier:

 

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, hints at scrapping Heathrow expansion and “taking a really close look” at whether it stacks up

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has hinted that the Government could scrap Heathrow expansion, in his first public utterances on the topic in his new job. He told Sky News that “there are questions about whether the whole plan stacks up” and that Heathrow are going to need to “make sure they bring in enough income to justify the billions of pounds spent on it.” Mr Shapps also mentioned the upcoming legal challenge appeal, starting on Thursday 17 October. He said “there are of course court cases to do with emissions, that sort of thing so what we’ve said is we’ll watch that process very carefully and in the meantime I’ll be having a really close look at whether figures stack up or whether building more capacity, another runway there, would add to the charges to such an extent that it doesn’t.” Rob Barnstone, from the No 3rd Runway Coalition said: “Whether it is Heathrow’s overconfidence of being able to deliver the necessary funds for this project or the catastrophic environmental impacts, it is becoming clearer than ever that a third runway won’t be able to be delivered on time or budget and certainly does not fit within the Government’s environmental commitments of net zero emissions by 2050.” 

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2019/08/transport-secretary-grant-shapps-hints-at-scrapping-heathrow-expansion-and-taking-a-really-close-look-at-whether-it-stacks-up/

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