Several old posts on Theresa May’s personal website as Maidenhead MP, stating her opposition to a Heathrow runway, were unearthed several months ago. One (May 2010) said she “welcomed the Government’s decision to cancel the third runway project at Heathrow Airport.” And she said: “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome to cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect on the Maidenhead and Twyford areas by increasing levels of noise and pollution, and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.” Now the Telegraph has found a leaflet from Theresa May in summer 2009 that says: “Theresa has opposed the Government’s decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow. This would have a major impact on the constituency. A particular concern is a possible earlier increase in night flights over Maidenhead and the surrounding area.” And the statement ends: “…I will fight to stop the third runway.” She was part of Mr Cameron’s front bench when he made opposition to a third runway a key part of his pitch to get the Tories elected in the 2010 general election. Another leaflet from November 2010 – months after the Tories won power and scrapped plans for the third runway – shows her praising the “victory”.
Theresa May pledged to ‘fight to stop third runway’ at Heathrow in newsletter to constituents
Theresa May once pledged to “fight to stop the third runway” at Heathrow and warned it would have a “detrimental” impact on her constituents, it can be revealed.
Newsletters from Mrs May to local voters uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph show she warned Heathrow expansion would “increase noise and pollution”.
It has also emerged that she lobbied the independent airports commissioner while Home Secretary over concerns about the impact of expansion on the environment.
The revelations come just days before Mrs May is expected to proclaim support for a third runway at Heathrow and will cause embarrassment.
They will leave her open to the same claims of backtracking on earlier promises as David Cameron, who was criticised for ditching his “no ifs, no buts” promise to oppose a new runway.
Mrs May’s Maidenhead constituency is less than a half an hour’s drive from Heathrow Airport and her local council has opposed expansion for years.
She was part of Mr Cameron’s front bench when he made opposition to a third runway a key part of his pitch to get the Tories elected in the 2010 general election.
Local campaign literature ahead of the vote shows the full extent of Mrs May’s criticism of the Labour Government’s plans at the time.
A summer 2009 newsletter reads: “Theresa has opposed the Government’s decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow.
“This would have a major impact on the constituency. A particular concern is a possible earlier increase in night flights over Maidenhead and the surrounding area.”
Mrs May is quoted as saying: “The Government has approved the third runway, and I am concerned that they will now push ahead and allow an increase in night flights from Heathrow. This would be a major blow to local residents.
“We have already seen the leaked plans from BAA for a 30 per cent increase in night flights, and the Government have been less than clear about their plans once the current arrangements end in 2012. I will continue to press them to rule out more night flights and will fight to stop the third runway.”
Another leaflet from November 2010 – months after the Tories won power and scrapped plans for the third runway – shows her praising the “victory”.
It reads: “Theresa has welcomed the news that the Government has cancelled the third runway project at Heathrow Airport.
“The third runway, which was planned by the previous Government, would have resulted in additional flights and increased noise and pollution in the Maidenhead and Twyford areas and surrounding parts, and was opposed by Theresa and much of the local community.”
Mrs May – by now the Home Secretary – is also quoted. “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow,” she says.
“Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect on the Maidenhead and Twyford areas by increasing levels of noise and pollution, and the Government’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.”
The comments – which were in line with party policy at the time – are likely to be replayed back to Mrs May by Heathrow critics if she backs expansions at the airport as expected.
They date to a time before the Tory leadership decided to reopen the door to Heathrow and announced an independent inquiry in 2012.
Years after the announcement Mrs May met Sir Howard Davies, chair of the Airports Commission, to discuss her views on expansion.
A message on her website in 2014 said Mrs May mentioned the concerns that many local residents have about aircraft noise, particularly at night time, and the need to consider the environmental impacts of any proposals”. It also said she raised the number of local jobs that “depended” on Heathrow.
Discussing her previous stances, allies of Mrs May have said she is determined to make an airports decision in the “national interest” since taking office.
Archive material reveals the extent of new Prime Minister’s opposition to a 3rd runway at Heathrow over many years
July 16, 2016
Campaign group HACAN has unearthed archive material, from Theresa May’s website, which reveals that the new Prime Minister has been a fierce opponent of a third runway at Heathrow, for many years. Her comments on Heathrow since 2008 are copied here. For example, in January 2009 in response to the decision by the Labour Government to give the go-ahead to a 3rd runway, she said: “I know from all the letters and emails I get that many local people will be devastated by the Government’s decision. A third runway will result in thousands of additional flights, increased noise and more pollution for thousands of people. The Government’s promises on the environmental impact of this are not worth the paper they are written on – there are no planes currently on the market that would allow them to meet their noise and carbon dioxide targets. …. We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.” And “my constituents face the prospect of a reduction in their quality of life with more planes flying overhead, restriction in driving their cars locally and a far worse train service in Crossrail. I hope that the Secretary of State recognises that as a result of today’s announcement, nobody will take this Government seriously on the environment again.” In March 2008 she said: “The Government needs to show that expansion is consistent with national targets for tackling climate change and cutting CO2 emissions,” She has also consistently expressed concern about night flights.
Theresa May has welcomed the Government’s decision to cancel the third runway project at Heathrow Airport. The third runway, which was planned by the previous Government, would have resulted in additional flights and increased noise and pollution in the Maidenhead and Twyford areas, and was opposed by Theresa and many local residents.
The commitment to scrap the third runway project is contained in the coalition government’s ‘Programme for Government’, published today.
Theresa said, “Like many local residents, I strongly welcome to cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow in this way would have had a detrimental effect on the Maidenhead and Twyford areas by increasing levels of noise and pollution, and today’s announcement is a victory for all those who have campaigned against it.”
The main customer of Heathrow IAG, which owns British Airways, has been adamant that it will not pay exorbitant landing charges at Heathrow well before a new runway opens. Now in a last ditch attempt to win them over (and anticipating a decision by the government to back their 3rd runway) Heathrow is claiming it can keep landing charges down till the runway opens. Heathrow’ CEO John Holland-Kaye says: “Through the planning and build period, we can keep prices flat on average compared to today. …What that means is that there will be some years where they are going down, some where they are going up.” Whatever that means. IAG has feared that landing charges would rise from about £20 now to around £40 per flight. Heathrow already has some of the world’s most expensive landing charges. But Mr Holland-Kaye’s words did not impress IAG and the company said the average was calculated over a period stretching up to 30 years, and “Their figures cannot deliver their stated aim of making Heathrow and the UK competitive. ” Last week, Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways, urged Heathrow’s shareholders to finance the construction from their own funds, rather than by increasing charges to passengers and airlines. Heathrow’s 9 month financial statement showed increasing debt for the company, and a huge hole in the pension scheme.
Heathrow pledges to keep passenger charges unchanged during runway construction
British Airways’ owner IAG accuses airport of ‘ripping off’ passengers over runway costs.
By Dan Cancian
October 21, 2016 (IB Times)
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye has pledged to keep passenger charges flat even if the airport is granted permission to build a third runway.
The government will formally decide next week between Heathrow and Gatwick which airport should be given the green light to expand, but some airlines have voiced concerns over the impact of expanding the former.
In June, Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways and Heathrow’s biggest customer, accused Britain’s largest airport of “ripping off” passengers amid new runway plans, which he said could cost about £16.5bn ($20.2bn).
Walsh said such a move would result in passengers paying £80 towards landing charges per return trip, which is double the present charge of £40.
However, Holland-Kaye said the airport could afford a third runway without hiking per-passenger charges.
“Through the planning and build period, we can keep prices flat on average compared to today,” he was quoted as saying by the Financial Times. “What that means is that there will be some years where they are going down, some where they are going up. That is a very good position to be in.”
Per-passenger charges have been steadily declining over the past few years and are forecast to account for 68% of the airport’s income from air operations next year.
However, Holland-Kaye’s words did not impress IAG and the company said the average was calculated over a period stretching up to 30 years.
“Their figures cannot deliver their stated aim of making Heathrow and the UK competitive,” said the owner of British Airways and Aer Lingus.
Walsh has not been the only executive to be vocal about the impact of Heathrow’s proposed expansion. Last week, Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways, urged the airport’s shareholders to finance the construction from their own funds, rather than by increasing charges to passengers and airlines.
On Thursday (20 October), the airport reported a rise in profits for the first nine months of 2016 and claimed increased support for its plans to build a third runway.
The airport saw a 0.7% annual increase in the number of passengers passing through to a record high 57.3 million in the January to September period. Pre-tax profits climbed 11% to £202m, while revenue rose 1.2% to £2.09bn. [But this article omits to say that the 9 month figures also show that Heathrow’s consolidated net debt grew to £12.016 billion which was an increase of 2.3% from the same period last year, when it was £11.745 billion. Also their pension fund went from a surplus of £104 million on December 31st to a deficit of £370 million in just nine months — a £474 million loss. Their loss before tax was larger than the same 9 months a year earlier, at £293 million, compared to a profit of £552 million the year before. The accounts are not simple to understand …. but Heathrow’s finances do not look as good as Heathrow is trying to make out. See the recent 9 month figures.… AW note] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/heathrow-pledges-keep-passenger-charges-unchanged-during-runway-construction-1587590?
Heathrow’s dividends to shareholders grow, but profits have plunged, pension deficit grows, and net debt grows
October 20, 2016
Heathrow has released financial figures for the first 9 months of 2016, to the end of September. They show a drop in profits compared to a year earlier. There is a pre-tax loss of £293 million, compared to a £552 million profit in the same period in 2015, due to various exceptional items. Its pre-tax profit before these items — which include fair value gains and losses on property revaluations — showed an 11% increase to £202m. Revenue edged up 1.2% to £2.1bn. Heathrow’s consolidated net debt grew to £12.016 billion which was an increase of 2.3% from the same period last year, when it was £11.745 billion. Heathrow’s pension fund dropped from a surplus of £104 million on December 31st to a deficit of £370 million in just nine months — a £474 million loss. The company attributed this decline to “financial volatility” following the Brexit vote etc. If this size of deficit continues, Heathrow will be required to put more money into its pension scheme. The Sunday Times recently said that Heathrow and Gatwick had each spent about £30 million on advertising and promoting their runway bids. The 9 month accounts show £13 million on “intangible assets” (probably advertising etc) this year, and £11 million in 2015. They also show £32 million of Corporation Tax paid, and Dividends paid of £486 million so far this year; £289 million in the same period of 2015; and £380 million in all of £2015.
British Airways CEO confirms his airline will not pay exorbitant Heathrow fees to build new runway scheme
October 13, 2016
Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways, (which is part of IAG) said the airline would oppose any move by its main airport, Heathrow, to raise its charges if it gets permission to build a 3rd runway. Mr Cruz said that although there was an “overwhelming case” for expanding capacity at Heathrow, this should not be at such high cost, and “Any notion that the cost will be borne by airlines is not acceptable.” He said that though IAG (BA produced about 75% of IAG’s 2015 profit), would not leave Heathrow altogether if costs were too high, it would look at expanding operations elsewhere. IAG also has hubs in Dublin and Shannon for Aer Lingus, in Madrid for Iberia, and Barcelona for Vueling – so it has lots of possible options. IAG does not want to pay in advance for the future runway and terminal, the extravagant design of which it has described as “gold plated.” Alex Cruz, like IAG boss Willie Walsh, was critical of a 2nd Gatwick runway, saying there was “no business case” for it, and “There is simply not sufficient demand from either customers or airlines….Experience shows that the majority of long-haul airlines that start operations at Gatwick either quit and leave London altogether or go to Heathrow as soon as possible.” Mr Cruz said that Heathrow’s shareholders should bear the cost of building a 3rd runway from the start. “Heathrow’s investors do pretty well out of its monopoly hub status.”
Heathrow has released financial figures for the first 9 months of 2016, to the end of September. They show a drop in profits compared to a year earlier. There is a pre-tax loss of £293 million, compared to a £552 million profit in the same period in 2015, due to various exceptional items. Its pre-tax profit before these items — which include fair value gains and losses on property revaluations — showed an 11% increase to £202m. Revenue edged up 1.2% to £2.1bn. Heathrow’s consolidated net debt grew to £12.016 billion which was an increase of 2.3% from the same period last year, when it was £11.745 billion. Heathrow’s pension fund dropped from a surplus of £104 million on December 31st to a deficit of £370 million in just nine months — a £474 million loss. The company attributed this decline to “financial volatility” following the Brexit vote etc. If this size of deficit continues, Heathrow will be required to put more money into its pension scheme. The Sunday Times recently said that Heathrow and Gatwick had each spent about £30 million on advertising and promoting their runway bids. The 9 month accounts show £13 million on “intangible assets” (probably advertising etc) this year, and £11 million in 2015. They also show £32 million of Corporation Tax paid, and dividends paid of £486 million so far this year; £289 million in the same period of 2015; and £380 million in all of £2015.
Heathrow’s profits plunge and pension deficit grows as it awaits decision on third runway
The company’s financial results show a drop in profits just days before the Government is expected to announce its preference for expansion
By Cristina Criddle (Telegraph Business)
20 OCTOBER 2016
. Heathrow has reported a plunge in profits and a £474m loss in its pension fund as it its campaign for a third runway reaches a climax.
Prime Minister Theresa May will announce the Government’s preferred choice for airport expansion by the end of the month — opting for either Gatwick or Heathrow.
Its pre-tax profit before these items — which include fair value gains and losses on property revaluations — showed an 11% increase to £202m. Revenue edged up 1.2% to £2.1bn.
Meanwhile, the pension fund of Britain’s largest airport dropped from a surplus of £104m on December 31 to a deficit of £370m in just nine months — a £474m loss. The company attributed this decline to “financial volatility” following the Brexit vote and falling corporate bond yields. [This deficit is partly caused by the current low interest rates – but if such a huge deficit continues, Heathrow should put some money into the fund. The Pensions Regulator will be looking at the issue. Such a large swing from surplus to deficit is unusual. The Heathrow pension fund is managed by the trust company. AW note]
Heathrow’s debt also grew. Consolidated net debt was £12bn, (£2,016 million consolidated net debt) up 2.3% from the same period last year, when it was £11,745 million.
Despite its results, the airport today insisted that expansion on its site was the “right choice to help make Britain stronger and fairer for everyone”.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the airport has “broad support” for its third runway plans and praised the Prime Minister for “showing leadership” after years of uncertainty.
“We stand ready to deliver the runway that will keep Britain a confident, outward looking trading nation as soon as we get the green light from government,” he added.
Mrs May, however, has been warned by her own ministers that she will be “making a huge mistake” if she backs expansion of Heathrow Airport.
Today it emerged that David Cameron was warned by his own policy chief a year ago that the Government was “exposed on Heathrow” because it had no answers to concerns raised over air quality.
A third runway would create up to 180,000 jobs and £211bn of growth across the country, it added.
Heathrow Airport pays out £225m to investors while asking for public cash
By NICHOLAS CECIL (Evening Standard)
Heathrow was caught in a financial row today just days before the Government is expected to give the go-ahead for a third runway.
The west London airport faced criticism after it announced it was paying £225 million in dividends to investors for 2016, while also asking for public money to improve the transport system for another runway.
Its pre-tax profit increased 11% to £202 million in the first nine months of the year.
Revenue rose 1.3% to £2.1 billion but overall it posted a £293 million loss due to exceptional items.
Mr Holland-Kaye was grilled on BBC radio on pay-outs to investors of more than £2 billion over the last four years.
Reacting to the figures, Hammersmith Labour MP Andy Slaughter said: “If Heathrow can afford to pay such large sums in dividends to shareholders, why are they offering a fraction of the costs to improve road and rail networks that a third runway would require – and letting the taxpayer pick up the bill?”
The airport defended the dividends, stressing investors had put in £11 billion in past years to pay for Terminal 5 and Terminal 2 to maintain the airport as a global leader.
Part of the dividends were for sales of Stansted and Edinburgh airports, a spokesman added.
Heathrow has pledged to pay an unspecified share of £1 billion for surface access improvements needed for a third runway. [Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told the Environmental Audit Select Committee at its inquiry last year that Heathrow would only be prepared to pay £1.1 billion towards improved road and rail access. AW note]
But Transport for London says the figure could end up being between £10 billion to £20 billion.
In the nine months ended 30 September 2016, gross restricted payments of £556 million (net restricted payments £461 million) were made by the Group which principally funded the majority of the £225 million in quarterly dividends paid to the Group’s ultimate shareholders …
But the tables have the figures of dividends paid of £486 million so far this year; £289 million in the same period of 2015; and £380 million in all of £2015.
A memo sent by a Downing Street policy advisor, to David Cameron in September 2015 shows that the government were aware of the air pollution problem at Heathrow. The advisor, Camilla Cavendish, wrote that the air pollution plans by Liz Truss (then Environment Secretary) were inadequate and would not restrict the levels of NO2 around Heathrow. Camilla said: “There are three problems with Liz’s clean air plan as currently written. First it is still very much a draft which quotes initiatives that are likely to be abolished … Second it both over-claims and underwhelms. … It says we want the cleanest air in the world but does not even begin to tackle the fundamental question of how we might help people to shift away from diesel cars. Third, it leaves us exposed on Heathrow where we don’t yet have an answer on air quality.” Cameron said in December 2015 that the government would undertake more work on the Heathrow air pollution issue. Defra published its national air quality plan in December 2015 with no mention of Heathrow and has not said more on this publicly since. Cavendish, who is now a Conservative peer, has now said she believes “successive governments have failed the public on air quality. Too many people in Whitehall and parliament think they can play it down because it’s invisible.”
Cameron aide said government was ‘exposed on Heathrow’ over air quality
As Theresa May prepares for airport expansion decision, memo emerges in which former PM was told he did not ‘have an answer’ on pollution concerns
By Rowena Mason, Adam Vaughan and Jessica Elgot
Wednesday 19 October 2016 David Cameron’s No 10 policy chief warned him a year ago that he was “exposed on Heathrow” because the government did not have an answer to its impact on air quality, an internal Downing Street note has revealed.
The memo was written by Camilla Cavendish, a former Downing Street adviser, who was scathing about the first draft of a government air quality plan from the department of the then environment secretary, Liz Truss.
“There are three problems with Liz’s clean air plan as currently written,” the note from September 2015 says. “First it is still very much a draft which quotes initiatives that are likely to be abolished … Second it both overclaims and underwhelms.
“It says we want the cleanest air in the world but does not even begin to tackle the fundamental question of how we might help people to shift away from diesel cars. Third, it leaves us exposed on Heathrow where we don’t yet have an answer on air quality.”
This week in the high court, ClientEarth, an environmental law group, has argued that the government’s plan to clean up levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) fails to adhere to the law.
Theresa May is preparing to make a decision on airport expansion in the south-east, with all the signs pointing to a choice of a third runway at Heathrow.
…. than a bit about the alleged delay (there is no delay) …
Cameron put off the decision on Heathrow in early December last year, saying the government would undertake more work on the environmental impact of airport expansion. But the government published its national air quality plan later that month with little reference to Heathrow and has not expanded on it publicly since then.
Cavendish, who is now a Conservative peer, said on Wednesday (19th October) night: “Now this is in the public domain I have to say that I believe successive governments have failed the public on air quality. Too many people in Whitehall and parliament think they can play it down because it’s invisible.
“But the scientific evidence shows that air pollution, especially particulates from diesel vehicles, is a growing threat to health. I continue to believe that government policy underwhelms and overclaims, including on Heathrow where expansion will increase pollution.”
Air pollution causes 50,000 early deaths and £27.5bn in costs every year, according to the government’s own estimates, and was called a “public health emergency” by MPs in April.
Observers said Cavendish’s briefing to Cameron showed the government knew Heathrow expansion was problematic for compliance on air quality, and that the handful of clean-air zones planned by ministers were not enough to tackle pollution from diesel cars.
Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green party and MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “This revelation confirms what many of us have been saying for months: Heathrow expansion cannot go ahead if we’re serious about protecting the environment. Not only would expansion mean additional emissions from aircraft, but it’s highly likely that there would be more fumes from road traffic blighting the local area too. The government has clearly buried this inconvenient memo in the hope of railroading this section through, irrespective of its legality and the impact on local people.”
Simon Birkett of the Clean Air in London campaign said: “Whether it’s a big or little impact, it doesn’t matter if it makes it [compliance] worse. This briefing shows us what I call free-market anarchists like George Osborne – people who say the car is king, and want no regulation on anything – have a disregard for human health.”
The Davies commission on airport expansion said that a bigger Heathrow would mean extra traffic on Bath Road near the airport, leaving it with the highest concentrations of NO2 in the Greater London area. That “would delay compliance with the directive and hence would not be deliverable within the legal framework”, the commission’s final report said.
A Heathrow source said: “Heathrow accepted the conditions of the Davies commission in May this year. The airports commission were always clear there were no issues with air quality. However, if a judicial review or another legal case is brought, government has to have done its own research into everything the Davies commission has said. It’s not enough to say the airports commission came to a particular conclusion.
“So they have to look into the air quality plans themselves. However, if Theresa May approves Heathrow next week, it will have done those investigations by now. They will not go ahead with expansion, anywhere, if they had found air quality limits were going to be in breach, because it’s a legal requirement.”
The airport’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said this week that a study by Cambridge University into air pollution had bolstered Heathrow’s case. [The study does not actually say that – and it has not yet been peer reviewed, let alone published …. AW note]
The university’s Prof Rod Jones, who has been using sensors to monitor air pollution around the airport, said his research showed the air quality problem at Heathrow was due to road traffic, not planes, and that cleaner car engines being mandated by law would bring NO2 levels down below what they are now. [The might, if there actually were these lower-NO2 engines – but that is in the realms of speculation and not fact. Professor Jones is a scientist and does not deal in speculation on future politics. AW note]
“We would expect … the traffic-related signature [of NO2 emissions] to drop below what it is today … even though there may be more traffic,” said Jones, whose study is due to be published in about a month’s time.
A government spokesman said: “The government is firmly committed to improving the UK’s air quality and cutting harmful emissions. That’s why we have committed more than £2bn since 2011 to increase the uptake of ultra-low-emissions vehicles, support greener transport schemes and set out a national plan to tackle pollution in our towns and cities. We cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”
The Client Earth hearing in the High Court in London took place on 18th and 19th October.
Cost at heart of government air pollution inaction
19 October 2016 (Client Earth)
The judge presiding over ClientEarth’s case against the UK government for breaching EU air pollution laws has said cost is the crux of the case.
ClientEarth has argued since the start of its legal action several years ago that cost has affected the government’s progress on compliance.
Mr Justice Garnham’s remarks on day two of the Judicial Review follows evidence in ClientEarth’s argument heard yesterday which revealed that former Chancellor George Osborne had blocked more ambitious plans to reduce UK pollution on cost grounds.
In exchanges with Defra’s barrister, the judge said cost was “the nub of this case; how much cost played a part in the decisions taken.”
ClientEarth argues that the government failed to take action to comply with legal air pollution limits “as soon as possible” and was focused on cost over compliance.
Defra has set out its defence today. Its QC said Defra has “always accepted” it was in breach of EU pollution limits and “did not resile” from its duty to reduce NO2.
She added: “This does not mean that the question of cost and proportionality do not come into consideration.”
Defra argues that: “The Air Quality Plan contains proportionate, feasible and effective measures to address the anticipated non-compliant nitrogen dioxide levels in particular zones.”
In later exchanges, the judge suggested that proportionate action “achieves the objective with minimal innocent casualties,” but said the government seemed to consider what was proportionate “in regard to the rest of government business.”
He concluded: “You mean by that, cost.”
ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “It is patently obvious from the evidence we have heard so far in this case that cost has been the primary and overriding factor in the government’s lack of action on air pollution.
“The judge is correct that cost does appear to be the nub of this case – and at the heart of government’s failure to protect our health by complying with the law. Time spent balancing cost against projected effectiveness is time when thousands continue to die and be made seriously ill by air pollution.
“Health is more important than Treasury bean-counting and ministers should, urgently, put health first.
“We all – children and adults alike – have the right to breathe clean air.”
The two-day hearing has now concluded. Judgment has been reserved. ClientEarth hopes for a ruling in the coming weeks.
Alan Andrews, lawyer at ClientEarth, finds Heathrow offers on air quality “underwhelming” and vague
May 16, 2016
In an excellent article in Environment Journal, ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews says John Holland-Kaye’s two offers by Heathrow to try to get NO2 levels down are, in his words, “underwhelming.” Alan says the first offer to “create an ultra-low emissions zone [ULEZ] for airport vehicles by 2025” is vague, as we are not told what conditions this zone will have. It is also only airport vehicles, which are a tiny proportion of the total. Alan says this is also five years behind the tardy ULEZ which is currently slated to come into force in the congestion charging zone in central London. On the second offer, to “develop plans for an emissions charging scheme for all vehicles accessing the airport….” Alan comments that there is no deadline given for delivery, and it is far from the radical action needed to get air pollution down to legal levels quickly. Heathrow has also talked of extending a low emissions zone to the airport, but there is no detail of when this would happen or what standards would apply. ClientEarth believes that as the area around the airport breaks legal limits, all these measures should be happening regardless of expansion, in order to satisfy the Supreme Court order and achieve legal limits as soon as possible.
Heathrow’s vague proposal on air pollution – what is Heathrow really saying?
May 14, 2016
Heathrow has made some guarded offers to government, attempting to persuade them that environmental problems should not be allowed to block their 3rd runway plans. The offer on air pollution, a key issue meaning Heathrow expansion is likely to be very damaging to health, is vague. Heathrow says (as rather improbably required by the Airports Commission) “New capacity at an expanded airport will not be released unless we can do so without delaying UK compliance with EU air quality limits”. That means, if somewhere else has a worse level. Heathrow says it will “create an ultra-low emissions zone for airport vehicles by 2025.” Airport vehicles only. And Heathrow says “We will develop plans for an emissions charging scheme for all vehicles accessing the airport.” The new Chair of the Environment Audit Cttee, Mary Creagh said the air pollution proposals need “to go much further much faster.” ClientEarth said “We need to see detailed analysis on what these proposals would achieve, but air pollution around the airport needs to be cut drastically before we can think about expansion. It’s difficult to see how that would happen without something far more radical than what’s currently on the table.” AEF said permission for a new runway should only be given if it can be proven that this is compatible with bringing air pollution in the Heathrow area within legal limits.
Report from Policy Exchange shows how poor air quality is in much of London, and near Heathrow
November 30, 2015
A new report by the Policy Exchange, called “Up in the Air” looks at London’s air pollution, and shows that over 12% of London’s area was in breach of NO2 limits in 2010, with the most affected areas being Central London, the area around Heathrow airport, and other major transport routes. The report says: “Aviation currently makes up 7% of total NOx emissions in Greater London, but this could increase to 14% by 2025. Aviation emissions are forecast to increase due to a growth in air [craft] movements, whilst at the same time emissions from other sectors are decreasing …..Importantly, this does not yet factor in the impact of possible airport expansion around London.” It says if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway the number of passengers would rise steeply. Their analysis only goes to 2025 but for there to be another runway, and for air quality not to deteriorate “… the acceptability of Heathrow expansion in air quality terms rests not only on the extent to which air quality impacts at Heathrow can be mitigated, but also on the level of progress on air pollution in the rest of London. If pollution levels are brought within legal limits across the rest of London, then this could undermine the case for Heathrow expansion on air quality grounds.”
‘Clean Air in London’ obtains QC Opinion on Air Quality Law (including at Heathrow)
October 6, 2015
The group, Clean Air in London (CAL), is very aware of the problems of air quality in London. Its founder and director, Simon Birkett, says the law about air pollution is not being properly applied. So they have asked their environmental solicitors, Harrison Grant, to obtain advice from a QC on the approach which planning authorities across the UK should take to Air Quality Law. CAL wants to ensure that tough decisions to reduce air pollution and protect public health are taken by the Government, the Mayor and other planning authorities. In particular CAL wanted to clarify the extent to which planning decisions should take into account breaches, or potential breaches, of air pollution limits. This applies particularly to a Heathrow runway, among other projects. CAL now have advice from Robert McCracken QC. It says: “Where a development would in the locality either make significantly worse an existing breach or significantly delay the achievement of compliance with limit values it must be refused.” And “Any action which significantly increases risk to the health of the present generation, especially the poor who are often those most directly affected by poor air quality, would not be compatible with the concept as health is plainly a need for every generation.”
Landmark air pollution ruling by Supreme Court could scupper 3rd runway at Heathrow due to high NO2 level
April 29, 2015
The UK Supreme Court has quashed the Government’s ineffective plans to cut illegal levels of air pollution in Britain and ordered it to deliver new ones by the end of the year. The Supreme Court Justices were unanimous in their decision, saying: “The new Government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue.” This could have implications for a 3rd runway at Heathrow, as areas around the airport continue to be stubbornly above the EU legal limits. That is due both to air pollution from the planes in addition to the huge amount of traffic on the M4 and M25. In their verdict, 5 judges ordered the Secretary of State at DEFRA to consult on strict new air pollution plans that must be submitted to the European Commission by 31 December 2015. The EU Air Quality Directive demanded the UK brought pollution down to legal limits by 2010 or apply for an extension by 2015. But the government in 2011 said that a number of areas, including London, would be unable to comply by 2015 and instead argued the law allowed it to comply “as soon as possible”. The judgement marks a victory for the campaigning legal firm ClientEarth. HACAN commented: “This is a potential show-stopper as far as a 3rd runway is concerned.
If the government makes an announcement that it proposes to build a new runway at its preferred location, on Tuesday 25th October, that is merely the start of a process. And it could be a very long process, that may ultimately not end in a runway being built. Looking at the possible timescale, Patrick McLoughlin set out in evidence (Feb 2015) to the Transport Select Cttee, how he expected the timescale to work. This would all take probably at least two years, if there were not hold-ups at all, and no legal challenges. It is expected that the process could take at least four years in reality – getting past the next election (if that is in May 2020). The steps might be approximately: (1). A draft National Policy Statement published for consultation and laid in Parliament, at least 4 weeks after the announcement. (2). The consultation might be 4 months. (3). A Commons Select Cttee will examine the draft NPS and hold a 3 month public inquiry. (4). The Commons Select Cttee will then submit a report to the Secretary of State for Transport. (5). Once a final NPS is laid, debates and votes must happen within 21 sitting days of the House. (6). There might be more changes needed to the NPS and another vote. (7). The developer submits a development consent order to the planning inspectorate. (8). Then a planning inquiry and examination for 6 months. (9). The planning inspector will report to the Sec of State within 3 months. (10). The Sec of State will consider the report and announce a decision in 3 months. And this is not counting legal challenges, at any stage.
Mr McLoughlin: I can let you have a much more detailed note on what happens with a development consent application. Basically, there are:
– six months for the planning inquiryand examination in public;
– three months for the planning inspector to report to the Secretary of State;
– three months for the Secretary of State to consider, report and announce a decision;
– a six-week period for any potential judicial reviews; and within that period there are also parliamentary occasions when Parliament can take a vote on the issues.
Question 62 [ with estimates of time, by AirportWatch, not Patrick McLoughlin ]
Mr McLoughlin: I went through it a few moments ago. Earlier this morning, I had a very good aide-mémoire which went right the way through it, but I can’t put my hand on it at the moment. The timeline at the moment is for a decision by the Government on the preferred location. Then there will be
– a draft national policy statement published for consultation and laid in Parliament.
– This is published a minimum of four weeks after the announcement on the runway location to avoid the legal risk of pre-determination. [Pre-determination means bias …. AW note] (So far 1 month)
– There is no decision yet on the length of the public consultation, but it could be 16 weeks. (So far 5 months)
– A Commons Select Committee will examine the draft NPS and hold a full-blown inquiry for 12 weeks immediately following the public consultation. (So far 8 months)
– The Commons Select Committee will submit a report to [the Secretary of State for Transport] by the end of the 12-week period. (So far 8 months – maybe 9 months?
– Once a final NPS is laid, debates and votes must happenwithin 21 sitting days of the House. (So far 9 months)
– At any time after the vote, or it could be the same day, if there is a negative vote, the Secretary of State will change and lay a new NPS, again for 21 voting days. (So far might be 9 – 12 months)
After that has happened, the next steps, post the 12 months, are that
– the developer submits a development consent order to the planning inspectorate;
– there is a planning inquiry and examination of six months, which is fixed; (So far 18 months)
– the planning inspector will report to the Secretary of State within a fixed three months; (So far 21 months)
– and the Secretary of State will consider the report and announce a decision—again fixed at three months. (So far 24 months)
– The potential JR will be for a six-week period thereafter, as well as at any stage along the line if we did not fulfil the role correctly. That is the big change that came about as a result of the 2008 Planning Act. There is a much clearer timetable as far as developments like these are concerned.
Total about 2 years, not including Judicial Reviews.
Heathrow or Gatwick: Final decision could be two years away
He said: “...there will be a draft National Policy Statement (NPS) published for consultation and laid in Parliament. This is published a minimum of four weeks after the announcement on the runway location to avoid the legal risk of pre-determination.
“There is no decision yet on the length of the public consultation, but it could be 16 weeks. A Commons Select Committee will examine the draft NPS and hold a full-blown inquiry for 12 weeks immediately following the public consultation.
“The Commons Select Committee will submit a report to me by the end of the 12-week period. Once a final NPS is laid, debates and votes must happen within 21 sitting days of the House. At any time after the vote, or it could be the same day, if there is a negative vote, the Secretary of State will change and lay a new NPS, again for 21 voting days.”
So, there will be around a year before Parliament gets a vote on that National Policy Statement. The Government will be expected to address concerns over noise and pollution.
And it is then, and only then, that it enters the planning process.
First the developer submits a development to the planning inspectorate. Then there is a planning inquiry over six months. Then the planning inspector reports to the Secretary of State within three months.
And finally the Secretary of State will consider the report and announce a decision within a further three months.
So an actual “final” announcement could be two years from the initial Government decision – and that is with a fair wind.
There will be gaps and delays in the process, there are those who think two years is the absolute minimum and the reality is it will take at least four years before a “final decision”.
None of the timescales include the legal challenges that could slow down the process further. (Bear in mind this is meant to be a quicker process than was in place previously).
History tells us how difficult it is to build new runways in the South East and how strong the opposition is.
All fell off the table during the long process as the politics shifted. Even Labour, with its large majority under Tony Blair, could not get far enough through the process to build at Heathrow.
Recently, Howard Davies – in charge of the latest Airports Commission – perhaps pertinently noted: “The London airport capacity problem has perplexed governments for over 50 years, for reasons that are not hard to find.
Howard Davies: “The considerable benefits of aviation accrue to the many, while the environmental costs are borne by the (relatively) few. For those who live near them airports are noisy neighbours and are greedy for space.
“In a congested corner of a crowded island it is not easy to find a good home for them. No new full-length runway has been laid down in the South East of England since the 1940s.”
So after the decision is made next week, it is not the end at all. It is really just another beginning.
IATA, the airlines’ trade association, expects that with a “hard Brexit” the number of UK air passengers could be 25 million fewer than government forecasts. 25 million passengers is about the entire annual throughput of Stansted. Though all forecasts are bound to be inaccurate, the problems of the weaker £ and changes to the relationship with the EU are likely to cut demand for air travel in the coming decade. Heathrow etc are keen to claim (having been totally against Brexit before the Referendum) that the UK now needs even more airport capacity. The reality is more than demand may fall, after 4 years of rapid growth before the EU referendum. IATA expect a hard Brexit (more likely) could cause air traffic to be 8-9% lower than with a soft Brexit (less likely). IATA’s forecast of 257 million UK flyers would equate to a total of just over 290 million passengers, including transfers, by 2030. (About 251 million in 2015). The Airports Commission believed, based on DfT forecasts, that a new runway should be constructed in the UK by 2030, predicted an increase to 315 million passengers by 2030. With the lower forecasts, that would not be till 2040. IATA’s revised forecasts indicate air passenger demand near the lower limit of the DfT forecasts.
Hard Brexit ‘will reduce need for airport expansion’
Airlines’ trade association says number of UK air passengers could be 25 million fewer than government forecast
The need for urgent airport expansion by 2030 could be diminished by Brexit, according to a new study suggesting the number of UK air passengers could be around 25 million fewer than forecast by government – or more than the entire annual traffic of Stansted.
Although airports have argued that Britain’s future isolation from the European Union requires rapid investment in airport capacity, the analysis by economists from airline industry body Iata predicts UK air traffic will tail off in the next two years, having experienced four years of rapid growth before the EU referendum.
They forecast that a hard Brexit [see definition below] will exacerbate an imminent loss in demand and leave passenger traffic around 8-9% below that resulting from a soft Brexit – the “most benign but arguably least likely scenario”, according to Iata.
Iata’s forecast of 257 million UK flyers would equate to a total of just over 290 million passengers, including those transferring from one flight to another, by 2030.
The most recent Department for Transport aviation forecasts from 2013, used by the Airports Commission in reaching its conclusion that a new runway should be constructed in the UK by 2030, predicted an increase to 315 million passengers by 2030. [See table below, which is from P 69 of the DfT 2013 forecasts]
This claim was repeated this week by the transport secretary Chris Grayling at the Commons transport select committee. However, under the lower demand scenario that the DfT considered, London’s combined airports would not be full until 2040.
Revised projections from Iata suggest traffic will be nearer the lower limit of the forecast if the UK goes for a hard Brexit, compounding the impact of a falling pound and increased travel costs from limited access to the EU aviation market.
Iata’s analysts said that reduced air capacity to and from the EU would “be expected to increase directly the cost of air travel with the bloc”.
If ongoing membership of the European Common Aviation Area is forfeited, Iata’s report warns, the impact would be “frontloaded” and the costs of air travel to the UK would remain higher for decades, dampening demand.
However, the weaker overall demand will make little difference to the main contenders for a new runway in south-east England, with Heathrow having effectively reached capacity in 2011, and Gatwick’s subsequent rapid growth seeing it forecast to reach capacity by the next decade if not before.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects 7.2 billion passengers to travel in 2035, a near doubling of the 3.8 billion air travelers in 2016. The prediction is based on a 3.7% annual Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR) noted in the release of the latest update to the association’s 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast.
Eastward shift, developing market focus
The forecast for passenger growth confirms that the biggest driver of demand will be the Asia-Pacific region. It is expected to be the source of more than half the new passengers over the next 20 years. China will displace the US as the world’s largest aviation market (defined by traffic to, from and within the country) around 2029.
India will displace the UK for third place in 2026, while Indonesia enters the top ten at the expense of Italy. Growth will also increasingly be driven within developing markets. Over the past decade the developing world’s share of total passenger traffic has risen from 24% to nearly 40%, and this trend is set to continue.
The 20-year forecast puts forward three scenarios. The central scenario foresees a doubling of passengers with a 3.7% annual CAGR. If trade liberalization gathers pace, demand could triple the 2015 level. Conversely, if the current trend towards trade protectionism gathers strength, growth could cool to 2.5% annual CAGR which would see passenger numbers reach 5.8 billion by 2035.
“Economic growth is the only durable solution for the world’s current economic woes. Yet we see governments raising barriers to trade rather than making it easier. If this continues in the long-term, it will mean slower growth and the world will be poorer for it. For aviation, the protectionist scenario could see growth slowing to as low as 2.5% annually. Not only will that mean fewer new aviation jobs, it will mean that instead of 7.2 billion travelers in 2035, we will have 5.8 billion. The economic impact of that will be broad and hard-felt,” said de Juniac. Link
The results for million terminal passengers per annum (mppa) at the national level are summarised in Table 5.1. This table shows that, after accounting for airport capacity constraints under the ‘max use’ capacity scenario, the number of UK air passengers is forecast to rise to 315mppa in 2030, within the range 275mppa to 345mppa. By 2050, the number of UK air passengers is forecast to reach 445mppa within the range 340mppa to 445mppa.
Extracts from an IATA Airlines International article:
(not dated – some time between July and September 2016?)
The nature of future air services arrangements between the United Kingdom and Europe will be central to the success of such a policy. As it stands, a completely open market exists with UK carriers able to operate as they see fit within Europe. A key question is whether the Brexit negotiations will allow this state of play to continue.
If not, a separate bilateral arrangement between the UK and the EU may be necessary. Moreover, new agreements with such other major aviation markets as the United States and Canada—covered at the moment by EU-level policy—would also be needed.
The EU has seven comprehensive, multilateral, air transport agreements in place with Third Countries. And it has already started working on EU-wide bilaterals with China and the ASEAN states. Re-negotiating all these agreements as an individual country would involve a host of factors and could have far-reaching effects on UK carriers as well as carriers that rely heavily on the UK market like Ryanair. The end result could push up prices and pull down the shutter on airline connectivity.
An alternative to new bilateral arrangements would be UK membership of the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA). This extends beyond EU borders to countries such as Norway and Iceland. In total, it covers 36 countries and 500 million people.
While the United Kingdom would have no problem in meeting ECAA requirements, membership does require a broad acceptance of EU policy and close economic cooperation.
A potential spanner in the works is the forthcoming new EU Aviation Strategy. Accepting it would be essential to joining ECAA but only EU countries are allowed input into its final form. Should the United Kingdom authorities feel there is a misalignment with its
own aviation policy, there is little recourse but to refrain from joining ECAA.
In short, given that the United Kingdom has voted to leave Europe, how likely is it to accept EU aviation laws and broader EU policy over which it has no influence?
The timing must also be a consideration. Legal uncertainty—which may dampen the expansion of air services—will doubtless result if arrangements are not concluded before the United Kingdom leaves the EU.
The airline response to date has been a mixed bag. IAG is reported as saying Brexit is not expected to have a long-term impact on its business, while easyJet noted that there had been “no noticeable change in passenger booking behavior” in the aftermath of the referendum.
Delta Air Lines, on the other hand, said in a statement: “With the additional foreign currency pressure from the steep drop in the British pound and the economic uncertainty from Brexit, Delta has decided to reduce six points of US-UK capacity from its winter schedule.”
Whatever happens, the full effects of Brexit will take time to materialize. Preliminary estimates, however, suggest that the number of UK air passengers could be 3%-5% lower by 2020, driven by the fall in the sterling exchange rate and the expected slowdown in economic activity relative to a no-Brexit scenario. The scale of any impact on passenger demand will, of course, depend on the shape of future arrangements between the United Kingdom and the EU as well as other trading partners.
While there is no hard-and-fast definition of ‘hard Brexit’ it rests on the following premises:
• Britain will introduce stricter controls on EU immigration. Mrs May has said that the referendum has given her government a mandate to curb immigration from EU nations.
• Britain will likely leave the EU single market. If Mrs May prioritises controlling EU immigration to the UK over access to the single market it is likely Britain will be forced to leave the trade bloc.
As a member state Britain has to accept the four ‘fundamental’ freedoms of the single market – the free movement of goods, service, capital and people. In other words Britain cannot benefit from free trade in goods, services and capital without the free movement of people.
• Trade barriers may be imposed between Britain and the EU. If Britain leaves the single market a new trade agreement must be established between the UK and its European neighbours – with the UK having rejected the fourth freedom and left the single market it is unlikely to be a free trade agreement.
IATA warns UK air passengers could decline 3% – 5% by 2020 due to airline uncertainties and fall in the £
June 25, 2016
Following the UK’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union, IATA said preliminary estimates suggest UK air passengers could decline 3%-5% by 2020, following an expected economic downturn and predicted falling £ exchange rates. IATA’s evaluation of the impact of Brexit notes that there is considerable uncertainty on details and timescale. A weak £ could make trips to the UK cheaper, but as there are far more outbound trips from the UK than inbound, and foreign trips for Brits going abroad will cost more, the net impact is lower numbers of passengers. A possible future path for the UK aviation sector would be membership in the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA).That would enable the UK to have continued access to the Single Aviation Market. However, it requires acceptance of EU aviation law across all areas, limiting the UK’s policy freedom. IATS says: “The same would apply to regulations more generally if the UK were to join the European Economic Area. For example, the strongest legal impediment to airport expansion comes from EU local air quality rules which would still apply to the UK if EU membership were exchanged for EEA membership.” IAG’s share price fell immediately, and easyJet wrote to the UK government and the EC to ask them to prioritise the UK remaining part of the single EU aviation market. BMI said it might “have to review” its bases in the UK.
And back in 2013 with the DfT forecasts – details at the link below:
Expected drop in demand for air travel seriously undermines rationale for airport expansion or new runways
January 31, 2013
The anticipated number of people wanting to fly from British airports in future has been cut substantially in official forecasts to reflect the nation’s economic decline. This means that now official reason for doubting the aviation industry’s claim that new airports are urgently needed to meet demand. However, the DfT said the figures meant all airports in London and the south-east would probably be operating at full capacity by 2030, though it could take until 2040 for that to happen. While in 2003 the DfT anticipated some 495 million passengers per year passing through UK airports, by the 2009 forecast this had dropped to 465 million, and by 2011 it was 345 million. Now that figure is 315 million – some 7% lower even than the 2011 figure. Even with the 345 million passenger forecast, it was very borderline whether any new runways were needed for the London area. The new forecasts reinforce the doubt. As there will be larger planes used in future, the anticipated increase in passengers can be accommodated on the existing runways. The DfT does not anticipate any significant rise in the proportion of business passengers, out to 2050.
The Cabinet met today (18th October) and did not come to a formal agreement on backing a Heathrow runway. However it is widely believed to be the preferred option of Mrs May and most of the Cabinet. There will be another meeting of the Cabinet next Tuesday, and after that a statement will be made by Chris Grayling in the House of Commons, on which runway location is chosen. There will not be a vote in Parliament soon afterwards, as had been speculated. Instead – as had always been known – there will be consultation next year on the Airports National Policy Statement, which is needed before a development as large as a runway – a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project – can be applied for. The government hopes to have the Airports NPS completed, put to Parliament to vote on, and finally published (designated) by around the end of 2017 or early 2018 . She has written to all Cabinet Ministers laying out what they can, and cannot do, in terms of opposing the Cabinet runway decision. Ministers opposed to her decision have to ask her approval first to be permitted not to toe the line …. This is aimed especially at Boris Johnson and Justine Greening. Mrs May says: “…. no Minister will be permitted to campaign actively against the Government’s position, nor publicly criticise, or call into question the decision-making process itself. Ministers will not be permitted to speak against the Government in the House.”
Update – what happens next:
Theresa May said (18th October) that there would be no Parliamentary approval of a third runway until after a vote on the National Policy Statement (NPS) on Aviation in Winter 2017/18.
This has been seen as a delay. It is not. It is the process we have always known has to be gone through in order to get a new runway agreed. It is what we (and the airports) were expecting and planning for.
The only thing that has changed (other than details of how Mrs May will control the opinions of her Cabinet) is that there will not be a symbolic free vote in the Commons, which could have been taken within days of next week’s announcement. That could have – the government hoped – shown cross-party support for the Heathrow 3rd runway. That vote was never necessary and had no weight in law. That initial vote had never been announced and there is no U-turn.
The Government will indicate its preferred option before the end of October. (25th ?) It will almost certainly be Heathrow. This is the reason why Theresa May announced that Cabinet members who have expressed long-standing opposition to a new runway at Heathrow can continue to oppose it.
In the first half of next year the Government will consult on:
The local impacts of its preferred option
Its wider National Policy Statement on Aviation since the statement will include all aspects of aviation policy, not just the runway
Its draft Airspace Strategy (but not individual flight paths)
(There are no details on those consultations, or others, yet)
This will lead to a vote in Parliament to approve the NPS during winter 2017/18. Even that is not the end of the process. Heathrow will then be required to draw up an Environmental Impact Assessment to form part of its detailed proposals for a new runway which will need to go to a Planning Inquiry.
With the NPS consultation in 2017 the timetable is on track for the airport to – perhaps – go ahead with its plan to open the new runway by 2026. Government backing in a parliamentary vote on the NPS, which is a binding vote, should clear the way for obtaining planning permission, which is the next stage after the NPS. Many obstacles remain however, at numerous stages of the process.
Heathrow never expected it would get final permission to start digging until 2020/21. Yesterday’s announcement by Theresa May does not change that.
Theresa May sets out strict rules to control how Boris Johnson opposes an expected Heathrow decision
She also revealed the House of Commons may not have a say on airport expansion before 2018
By Joe Watts Political Correspondent (Independent)
18.10.2016 about 18.30 GMT
Theresa May has set out strict rules in a bid to control how cabinet ministers like Boris Johnson raise objections to an expected decision to approve Heathrow expansion.
The Prime Minister is allowing “exceptional and limited” dissent from some ministers to avoid a major cabinet split, but has set out mind-boggling restrictions on what they can and cannot say.
In a letter to ministers, Ms May also reveals that after a cabinet-committee decision to approve expansion next week, the final proposals may not be put to the House of Commons until the early part of 2018.
Ms May’s message said that she recognised some colleagues have “strongly held views” and in some cases had constituency matters relating to airport expansion.
As a result she would put in place a “special arrangement” to allow some designated ministers a chance to avoid backing the government position and to set out a personal position on the matter. Any minister wishing to voice disapproval must “seek my approval”, she said.
The letter goes on: “This special derogation from normal rules of collective responsibility will also be subject to a number of important caveats.
“No minister will be permitted to campaign actively against the government’s position, nor publically criticise, or call into question the decision making process itself.
“Ministers will not be permitted to speak against the government in the House [of Commons].”
The rules are likely to hit Education Secretary Justine Greening and Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson, not known for verbal restraint, who both have already been vocal in their opposition to Heathrow.
Mrs May’s letter to the Cabinet contains the following statements:
“You will also be permitted, as part of the subsequent public debate on the subject, to restate longstanding views that are already a matter of public record and to pass on the vies of our constituents they are directly affected.”
“This is, however, an exceptional and limited arrangement. It will apply only to those ministers who have previously expressed strong opinions or who have a directly-affected constituency. Any colleague who considers that he or she falls into this category should seek my approval.”
“The arrangement all come into effect once a decision has been taken by the Airports sub-Committee on a preferred scheme and announced in the House of Commons.”
“The Government’s preferred scheme will then be subject to fun and fair public consultation before a final decision is put before the House, to designate [ie. publish] the National Policy Statement [on Airports] (in winter 2017/18).’
“…. no Minister will be permitted to campaign actively against the Government’s position, nor publicly criticise, or call into question the decision-making process itself. Ministers will not be permitted to speak against the Government in the House.”
Copy of the letter taken from Twitter:
Earlier in the day, the Independent reported:
Ms May told a meeting of the full cabinet today that the final decision would be taken at a sub-committee of ministers.
Her spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister also set out, in terms of the process moving forward, she wanted to approach this in a mature way, recognising that a number of ministers have long held views on this issue and previously set out positions.
“And that, in light of that, there would be a certain period of time after the committee has taken a decision, where they would be able to express those views and they would not be expected to publicly support the government’s position.” Link
Guardian article says:
Downing Street sources said May had not categorically ruled out holding a preliminary vote before winter of next year, but pointed out the only legal requirement was for a vote in the final stages, when a national policy statement needed for planning purposes is put to parliament for approval.
One Tory backbencher said the parliamentary vote had been put off because of increasing nervousness about resignations.
The decision suggests she is not strong enough to whip her cabinet in favour of a pro-Heathrow decision, although her official spokeswoman rejected the idea that partially suspending collective responsibility on this issue was a sign of weakness. Link
BBC Politics Live:
A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport has said that the decision to hold a public consultation on options for airport expansion in south east England before a final decision is “the expected and appropriate political process” and that “there is no delay.”
They added: “Heathrow expansion has the support of the majority of MPs. In recent polling, 71% of Conservative MPs and 73% of Labour MPs back a new runway at Heathrow.
“We also have the support of business, unions and the majority of airports in the UK.”
Gatwick airport also said the process was as expected.
The prime minister sent a letter to government ministers advising them of the decision to hold a sub-committee meeting to decide on a preferred expansion scheme later in October.
The government’s preferred scheme will then be subject to a “full and fair” public consultation before a final decision is made in the Commons in the winter of 2017-18.
Heathrow third runway decision needed ‘as soon as possible’ after Brexit says Simon Calder
Setting out the process Ms May explains that once the cabinet committee has made a decision on which proposal for expansion to back, it will then go to a full public consultation before “a final decision is put before the House” in the winter of 2017/18.
A Heathrow third runway was recommended by the independent Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies.
It has also gained backing from Labour this week with shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald saying there needs to be “overwhelming evidence” that the Commission’s conclusions are flawed for it to be ignored.
The Scottish National party has also said it backs the Heathrow expansion. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “Suspending collective responsibility to avoid a tricky vote is something that Corbyn does to try and paper over the massive schisms in his party, and now, it seems, the Prime Minister has taken a leaf out of his book.”
Theresa May has given the clearest signal yet that she is about to approve a third runway at Heathrow airport but a final vote in the House of Commons will not happen for more than a year.
The prime minister told cabinet colleagues that they would be free to speak out against the final decision, a suspension of collective responsibility intended to allow critics to oppose a new runway without resigning.
The decision seems to be aimed at Boris Johnson, foreign secretary, and Justine Greening, education secretary, staunch critics of an expanded Heathrow. There are no outspoken cabinet critics of the rival plan to build a second runway at Gatwick.
Mrs May’s “exceptional” arrangement should keep her top team together but giving the green light to Heathrow expansion will force the resignation of the environmentalist Zac Goldsmith and a by-election in his Richmond Park seat.
The prime minister will make her decision next week after a meeting of the airports subcommittee, with an announcement later that day in the House of Commons by transport secretary Chris Grayling.
That will lead to a year-long public consultation before a vote in late 2017 or early 2018 in the Commons on the new “national policy statement” authorising the project. Even then the airport management must apply for planning position.
In advance of the decision, she announced a suspension of collective responsibility, allowing ministers who had previously expressed strong views on airport expansion and had constituency interests to criticise government policy. Even then they must still seek permission from Mrs May.
In a letter to ministers, she explained that they would not be able to “campaign actively” against the government’s position, or publicly criticise, or call into question the decision-making process. Nor would they be allowed to argue against the government in the Commons.
Theresa May will not hold the final vote on airport expansion for more than a year to allow for public debate, with cabinet ministers such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening allowed to express opposition if Heathrow is the chosen option.
The prime minister wrote to cabinet colleagues on Tuesday saying the government’s decision on whether to back airport expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick would be taken by a cabinet committee before the end of the month.
The partial suspension of collective responsibility strongly suggests the government’s favoured proposal will be a third runway at Heathrow, as it would allow Johnson and Greening to express disapproval without resigning.
However, the final decision on expanding airport capacity will not be taken by parliament until the winter 2017-18, meaning it could be another 16 months before the national policy statement relating to airport capacity is approved.
The government will next week announce its decision on whether to favour expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick airport, after decades of delays.
Unusually, the decision will not be taken by the full cabinet but by a sub-committee, chaired by Theresa May.
MPs will not get to vote on the decision for at least another year.
Some ministers will be allowed to speak out against it for a limited period in a move being seen as evidence a third runway at Heathrow will be backed.
Expanding Heathrow is strongly opposed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and Education Secretary Justine Greening.
Allowing ministers to speak out could avert the possibility of resignations from cabinet.
In a letter, Prime Minister Theresa May has told cabinet colleagues that once a decision has been taken by the airports sub-committee on the preferred scheme it will then be subject to a “full and fair public consultation” before a final decision is put before the Commons in the winter of 2017-18.
Number 10 would not comment as to whether MPs would be able to vote freely on the matter.
Earlier, Mrs May told ministers at a cabinet meeting that a decision on increasing airport capacity in the South East had been “delayed for too long”.
Her spokeswoman said the prime minister believed it was important to now take a decision “in the national interest”.
The nine members of the airports sub-committee do not include Mr Johnson, whose Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat is close to Heathrow, Putney MP Justine Greening or any other minister representing a London constituency.
Mrs May’s spokeswoman said the decision to give ministers a limited period to voice their personal views was a “mature, common-sense approach reflecting the fact that many ministers have long-held views and that ministers are also MPs and some have specific constituency issues that they have to address”.
Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond Park, has vowed to resign from the Commons if the government approves a Heathrow expansion.
TheEvening Standard reportedon Tuesday that the local Conservative party would back Mr Goldsmith if he stood for re-election as an independent.
Airlines and business groups favour expansion of Heathrow, which offers far more direct connections than Gatwick and handles much more freight.
A final decision on which London airport to expand has been years in the making.
In 2009, former prime minister David Cameron pledged that there would be no new runway at Heathrow.
In July 2015, the Airports Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies backed a new third runway at Heathrow, but did not rule out the option of expanding Gatwick.
Mr Cameron had promised a decision by the end of last year on whether to build a new runway at Heathrow.
Something as huge as a runway, and the associated airport development, is considered to be a NSIP (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project) so there needs to be a National Policy Statement.
National Policy Statements (NPSs) are produced by Government.
They give reasons for the policy – in this case a runway – and set the policy against which the Secretary of State for Transport will make decisions on development consent order for the runway.
A Development Consent Order (DCO) is the means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP).
These NSIPs need development consent orders rather than other consents such as planning permission,
There is already an NPS for Ports (2012) and one for National Networks (road and rail – 2014)
The Airports National Policy Statement would look at:
“how the runway development integrates with other government policies,” and “circumstances where it would be particularly important to address the adverse impacts of development.” It is not possible to argue that the runway should not be built – just details of how to make its impact slightly less dreadful.
The Standard reports that Theresa May faces an awkward problem, if she backs a 3rd Heathrow runway, if Zac Goldsmith resigns his Richmond Park seat and causes a by-election. Zac held a private meeting of the Conservative group at Richmond Park where he confirmed he is ready to run as an independent. The group also voted in a secret ballot to support Zac rather than an official Conservative candidate, if one stood for the seat. Twickenham MP, Tania Mathias, who is also fiercely against the runway, agreed to support Zac, even though it is strictly against the party’s rules for an MP to back anyone standing against an official party candidate. For a Conservative not to stand, or to be beater significantly, would be very awkward for Mrs May. It is believed that the runway announcement will be made on Tuesday 25th October. At the Cabinet meeting on 18th October, ministers were allowed to discuss the runway issue for the first time — though critics of a 3rd Heathrow runway, such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening, were only invited to comment and not to vote. The government was expected to hold a vote in Parliament (Commons, not Lords) within a week or so of the decision, to get the endorsement of MPs for the decision. This is now not going to happen. Zac would need to decide when to resign, for greatest impact.
Goldsmith poised to stand as anti-Heathrow candidate in by-election
By NICHOLAS CECIL, JOE MURPHY (Evening Standard)
Theresa May faced a sensational revolt today as local Conservatives backed Zac Goldsmith to stand as an independent anti-Heathrow candidate in a by-election.
In a bombshell development, the Tory group at Richmond Park held a private meeting last night where Mr Goldsmith confirmed he is ready to run as an independent if the Government backs a new runway at Heathrow.
In a secret ballot, the group voted overwhelmingly to support Mr Goldsmith rather than an official Conservative candidate.
Extraordinarily, Twickenham MP Tania Mathias took part and also vowed to support Mr Goldsmith — even though it is strictly against the party’s rules to back anyone standing against an official candidate. “They see it as a referendum via the ballot box on Heathrow,” said an insider.
Today the Prime Minister allowed Cabinet ministers to discuss the airports issue for the first time — though critics of Heathrow expansion, such as Boris Johnson and Justine Greening, were only invited to comment and not to vote.
The Government is widely expected to approve Heathrow’s long-running campaign to expand in a week’s time, a move that is bound to cause protests and face legal challenges.
Mr Goldsmith’s resignation as an MP will be triggered by a Government decision to back Heathrow — although local sources believe that he would wait until after a Commons debate before forcing the by-election.
The Liberal Democrats believe they could snatch victory in Richmond Park by running on an anti-runway platform, and Mrs May will now have to decide if she dares to field an official candidate against Mr Goldsmith.
It would be unprecedented for the party to avoid a by-election in a seat with a 23,000 majority, but she would risk splitting local Tories and being defeated if she imposes a candidate.
One Tory source dismissed the likelihood of a Lib-Dem win if Mr Goldsmith stood as an independent, saying: “He has a huge personal following.”
Sarah Olney, an accountant at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, has been selected as the Lib-Dem parliamentary candidate.
Dr Mathias said: “Zac is doing the honourable thing by committing to his pledge and I fully support him in that.” She vowed to fight a third runway in Parliament.
At Cabinet, Theresa May announced a temporary suspension of ministers’ collective responsibility on airport expansion.
Gatwick and Heathrow Airport rivals clash in furious war of words over runway expansion
She said she recognised some ministers had long-held views and they would be allowed to set out their positions for a limited period. However, Cabinet collective responsibility would be applied to the final decision.
The unusual move aims to make it easier for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening, opponents of a third runway, to remain in Cabinet if the Government backs Heathrow expansion.
No 10 said that during the Cabinet’s talks on whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick, a range of views were ex-pressed, confirming the deep divisions among ministers on the issue.
The final decision will be made by a Cabinet sub-committee next week.
Possible resignation of Zac Goldsmith as Richmond MP over Heathrow threatens May’s slender majority
September 15, 2016
Theresa May’s slender Commons majority risks being cut even further if she backs a third runway at Heathrow, because Zac Goldsmith may resign the Tory whip and fight a by-election as an independent in his Richmond Park seat. Zac has said in the past that he might resign if the government favoured a Heathrow runway, as the airport has highly negative noise impacts on his constituency. Zac has a majority of more than 23,000, but he voted for Leave in the EU Referendum. His popularity could be reduced by a Brexit backlash or if the Tory vote splits. While Zac’s views on Heathrow expansion are in tune with many voters in his seat, almost 70% of people who voted in Richmond upon Thames on June 23 backed Remain. The Lib-Dems – who held the seat before Zac – said they would put Brexit at the centre of any by-election contest in the constituency. Brexit and Heathrow are two of the most important issues in Richmond. Mr Goldsmith is understood not to have made up his mind yet whether to stand as the Tory contender, an independent or quit Parliament. Mrs May has a Commons majority of twelve.
Zac Goldsmith likely to quit politics, rather than stand again as Richmond MP, if May approves Heathrow runway
October 5, 2016
The Evening Standard reports that Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, has said he would resign as an MP if Theresa May decides to approve a Heathrow 3rd runway. He has said for a long time that he would resign, and perhaps stand again as an independent. Zac’s constituency is heavily over-flown by Heathrow, and with a 3rd runway, people would lose a large part of the time they currently have “respite” from the noise, due to the current runway alternation. Heathrow has admitted that people would probably only get perhaps 4 hours per day without planes, rather than about 8 hours at present. But now Zac is understood to feel it would be wasting his constituents’ time to stand again at a by-election, and he would instead step down. His current majority is 23,000 (with about 43,000 votes out of around 58,000). The Liberal Democrats have held the seat in the past. The departure of Zac could be a worry for Theresa May as the Conservative party’s working majority is only 16. (The Conservatives have 329 MPs, out of 650). They cannot comfortably afford to lose any. Though Boris Johnson and Justine Greening are both deeply opposed to the runway, they have both said they would not resign, and give up their Cabinet positions, on the issue.
With a decision by government expected shortly, and the likelihood of a Heathrow runway being approved, 3 Heathrow campaigners went to join in one of the massive (almost) weekly demos at Frankfurt airport. Back in October 2011 a 3rd Frankfurt runway was opened. The local residents had not been informed just how much worse the plane noise they suffer would become, with new routes and alterations to old routes. About a million people in the area are affected. Since then they have held hundreds of protests, almost every Monday evening, against this reduction in their quality of life, the noise intrusion they suffer, and the drop in the prices of their homes. The Frankfurt area residents say they will never give up. The Heathrow campaigners said something very similar would happen to noise, with a 3rd Heathrow runway. Speaking to the crowd of many hundreds of protesters in the terminal, John Stewart said: “What you are showing to the airport authorities and to government is that if they build a runway that people don’t want, people will not go away. We will say that we will protest like the people of Frankfurt have protested for 5 years.” Neil Keveren, a Harmondsworth resident, said: “When the people of Chiswick, Hammersmith, Ealing and Southall realise they are going to be under a flightpath, I am pretty sure they are going to get the same sort of response at home.”
Some of the protesters in the airport terminal
The BBC’s Gareth Furbey went out with the three anti-runway protesters from Heathrow, to visit Frankfurt for one of their Monday evening protests.
There have been many hundreds of protests, not quite every Monday (they have a break at Christmas, and at some other times) for 5 years, since the opening of the 3rd runway at Frankfurt in October 2011.
Sometimes several thousand protesters attend the Monday rallies, in the airport terminal. In Germany airport terminals are public property, and the public is at will to enter them. In the UK airport buildings tend to be private.
When the 3rd runway was built, it involved not only new flight paths over new areas but also changes to existing flight paths.
The net effect was for there to be a large number of people newly exposed to plane noise under new, and concentrated, flight paths.
Though the airport had given some information about the new flight paths to some of the local authorities, they had not provided easy to understand information to the public, and there had been no public discussion or consultation.
So when the noise started,people were appalled and up in arms.
They have taken it upon themselves to protest, in huge numbers, for the past 5 years. Different areas or villages take it upon themselves to organised protests, so the task of organisation is shared.
Each Monday people gather at a set time at the terminal, with banners and placards and t-shirts. They listen to speeches, they sing anti runway songs (like “Die landebahn muss weg” – the runway must go), they make a huge amount of noise with drums, whistles etc, and they march round the terminal.
The protesters march round the terminal, banging drums, blowing hooters …
Sir Howard Davies went out one Monday to see what happens, and was impressed by the extent of the organised opposition.
The issue has become very significant in local politics. Further airport expansion is difficult due to the massive opposition.
Three Heathrow campaigners went out to take part in on such Monday protest (others went several years ago to take part in the 100th protest). They were John Stewart, Chair of Hacan; Neil Keveren from Stop Heathrow Expansion, and a builder from Harmondsworth; and Ruth Mayorcas, a resident from Chiswick – which would be directly underneath the arrival flight path from the east for a north-west runway at Heathrow.
The BBC film is not available for more than 24 hours. But on the film, there are clips of the marchers in the terminal, drumming and making loads of noise; comments of residents taking part saying why they do so – they find the noise of the planes unacceptable; one says “We won’t give up.” Another says the noise means “we cannot sleep.”
Speaking to the protest, John Stewart said:
“What you are showing to the airport authorities and to government is that if they build a runway that people don’t want, people will not go away. WE will say that we will protest like the people of Frankfurt have protested for 5 years.”
Neil Keveren said: “When the people of Chiswick, Hammersmith, Ealing and Southall realise they are going to be under a flightpath I am pretty sure they ar going to get the same sort of re spouse at home.”
The BBC film showed clips of a family with two teenage sons, living under a flight path, where the noise is too great to spend much time outdoors in the garden, or to open the windows. One teenager says: “I’d like to open my windows – but I cannot as it is too noisy.”
What some people under the new flight paths at Frankfurt say is that they did not realise how noise it would be until the runway opened.
One of the areas a affected was once one of the most sought after suburbs, and a couple say that the value of their house has fallen by 40% due to the noise. Their home is 10 miles from the runway, and there is a plane overhead about every 90 seconds. He said: “We used to have a paradise here. But now, as Milton said, Paradise is lost.”
Another resident point out a plane flying overhead, and says: “This is what we have about a thousand times per day. This is not a normal way of living.”
Ruth Mayorcas from Chiswick, living also about 10 miles from the runway (if it was built) said she was not worried. Standing in someone’s garden under a flight path – about 10 miles from the Frankfurt runway she said: “I would not be able to listen to the radio or talk to friends. I have lived there so long. I cannot believe this.”
There is some news about Frankfurt airport below:
Residents around Frankfurt hold their 150th huge Monday evening protest against aircraft noise
September 29, 2015
On Monday 28th September, the 150th Monday evening protest against aircraft noise, due to the new runway, took place at Frankfurt airport. The new 4th runway was opened in October 2011, to the north west of the airport, and caused not only new flight paths but changes to existing flight paths. People had not been expecting the noise problem to be so bad. As soon as the runway opened, residents starting protesting against the noise – that was stopping them sleeping, reducing their quality of life, preventing them enjoying relaxing outside under flight paths, and reducing the prices of their homes. They started protests in the airport Terminal 1 (almost) every Monday evening. These are attended by between about 600 and 3,000 people. That is an astonishing achievement, and manifestation of real anger and determination by the thousands affected by plane noise. They are concerned now that the protests are seen to be becoming routine, and there is some appetite for more radical action, especially now that work is due to start very soon on a deeply opposed 3rd airport terminal. The style of protesting may perhaps now change. In German airport buildings are public property, so protesters are entitled to congregate in the terminal.
Protesters set up camp in forest due to be cleared for Frankfurt airport 3rd terminal and access road
September 1, 2015
The operator of Frankfurt airport, Fraport, is planning a 3rd terminal, as it claims this is needed for it to remain competitive against other European hub airports. This new terminal would add enough capacity for 14 million more passengers a year when it opens in the first half of 2022. The airport can currently handle 64 million, but Fraport says there will be demand for 68 million to 73 million passengers by 2021. Over 4 days, airport protesters set up a camp in the nearby Treburger Oberwald forest, that is to be cleared in the course of the construction of a third terminal at Frankfurt airport. The peaceful event, “Forest instead of concrete,” organised by the group, Robin Wood, made the point that not only would be increased number of flights increase the carbon emissions of German aviation, but the loss of some 60 hectares of forest for the terminal and access road would also increase CO2. The protesters also hang up a banner in protest outside the concrete and gravel supplier Sehring, which profits from the environmentally damaging construction projects. Before the construction of the new north-west runway, the activists had occupied trees in Kelsterbach Forest for 9 months until their camp was cleared in February 2009 by the police.
Noise demonstration blasts 80 dB recorded plane noise outside home of Frankfurt airport CEO for 2 hours
March 1, 2015
As a protest against the level of aircraft noise that people living near Frankfurt airport are exposed to – especially since the opening of the 4th runway in October 2011 – people have bombarded the home of the airport Chief Executive, Stefan Schulte, with noise. Citizens in a convoy of about 40 cars parked outside his house, in a small town north of Frankfurt,. They set up loudspeakers and ghetto blasters in their cars, and rolled down the car windows in order to blast out noise, at about 80 decibels. That is loudest the police allowed them to use. The noise went on for two hours, with two breaks. The protest was by people living in areas across Rhein-Main who are badly affected by noise from flight paths. The noise they used was of planes, recorded at Niederrad Sachsenhausen, which is an area about 3 km to the north east of the airport. After some time of the noise bombardment, the CEO’s automatic garage door opened, and he set off in his car for work at the airport. One of the protesters commented that they did not understand how Herr Schulte is able to say society must just endure such levels of noise. Asked if the protest had been successful, one protester commented that it had been if the media and more members of the public are aware of the issue.
The Sunday Times understands up to 60 Conservative MPs are against a 3rd Heathrow runway – which would be the biggest parliamentary rebellion since Theresa May took power. In the summer a Comres poll of 150 MPs showed 20% against the Heathrow runway. That would translate to a lot more than 60 MPs, out of the full 650, even ignoring the SNP and the regions. There may be such an outcry that the party could have to reverse any support for Heathrow, if that decision is made in the next few weeks. Zac warns that the risk of Heathrow plans having to be abandoned should worry its potential investors. The Tory MPs opposing the Heathrow runway say they plan to use every parliamentary tool available to delay the final approval of the runway, if Mrs May declares support for it. There could be a “regret motion”** in the House of Lords to show the depth of feeling in Parliament, which would cause damage and increase the chances of a judicial review being successful. The rebel MPs also plan to use 3 consultations expected to be launched if Heathrow gets the go-ahead – on planning approval, air space changes and the local impact of expansion – to increase MP opposition. Dozens of Labour MPs are against the runway, though it is thought that Jeremy Corbyn would not be able to enforce a whipped vote for opposition.
Tory revolt over Heathrow third runway as 60 MPs oppose plans and warn of ‘catastrophe’ for party
Ministers are expected to make a decision of airport expansion by the end of October
By Ben Riley-Smith, assistant political editor (Telegraph)
15 OCTOBER 2016
Theresa May is facing a Tory revolt over Heathrow’s third runway as her own MPs vow to fight the move and warn the “betrayal” will not be forgiven by supporters.
The Sunday Telegraph understands up to 60 Conservative MPs are against expansion at Heathrow in the biggest parliamentary rebellion since Mrs May took power.
Zac Goldsmith, the party’s candidate for London mayor just months ago, has renewed his promise to quit as an MP if the Prime Minister gives the go-ahead to the project.
He warns in a piece for this newspaper that the Tories would be “badly damaged” with core supporters in West London if Heathrow’s bid is approved, raising the possibility of council losses.
Meanwhile, four Tory-led local authorities – including Mrs May’s local council of Windsor and Maidenhead – have gathered a £200,000 fund to fight her through the courts. [And Greenpeace has now joined in as well].
Lawyers have drafted letters ready to be submitted within hours of a decision demanding a judicial review that could see Heathrow’s bid caught up in the courts for a decade.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, are also likely to come under local pressure to stand by their long-held opposition and publicly criticise the move.
Mrs May’s government could make a decision on airport expansion as early as this week, though well-placed sources have suggested an announcement later this month was more likely.
Whitehall figures insist no decision has been taken on which of the three plans will be picked: a third runway at Heathrow, extending one of its existing runways or expanding capacity at Gatwick.
However MPs and bookmakers are increasingly confident that Heathrow’s third runway will get approval.
The option was backed by an independent reviewer, Sir Howard Davies, in his Airports Commission report last year and is favoured by business.
However, it directly contradicts a “no ifs, no buts” promise David Cameron made over blocking the third runway when he was Tory leader before the 2010 election.
Conservative opponents warned back-tracking on that promise – which once saw Mr Cameron “adopt” a tree near to the third runway site in a publicity stunt – would trigger a “catastrophe” in party trust.
Writing for The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Goldsmith repeats a promise to stand down and trigger a by-election if Heathrow’s third runway is approved, and warns of a backlash.
“There is no doubt that despite huge gains against the Lib Dems in West London in recent years, the Conservative Party would be badly damaged in the event that Heathrow gets a green light,” the Richmond Park MP writes.
“I promised voters I would step down and hold a by-election if Heathrow gets the go-ahead and I will stand by that pledge, but the fallout will be much wider, and it will hard for our brilliant local councils to weather the storm.”
He also raises the prospect that outcry could force the party to reverse any support for Heathrow that may be given in the coming weeks.
“If I were investing in Heathrow, it would worry me greatly because there is a very real risk that as soon as the polls tighten, the party will feel the need to reverse its policy, yet again,” he says.
Mr Goldsmith is not alone. Earlier this summer one in five (ie. 20%) Tory MPs asked by the pollster ComRes for their views said that they were against a third runway at Heathrow.
Tory rebels have told this newspaper that they plan to use every parliamentary tool available to delay the final sign-off of Heathrow’s expansion should Mrs May announce it.
Some hope to table a “regret motion” in the House of Lords to show the depth of feeling in Parliament. “It would cause damage and help the position for judicial reviews,” one Tory MP said.
Others plan to use three consultations expected to be launched if Heathrow gets the go-ahead – on planning approval, air space changes and the local impact of expansion – to lobby MPs into opposition.
“There would be a lot of MPs then realising on the detail how problematic Heathrow will be,” one Tory critic in Parliament said.
“The penny will drop over the betrayal with many MPs. Business people will just go nuts. There will be more critical voices. People think this is over; it is only the beginning.”
Tory whips were this week tapping up MPs to work out where they stood ahead of an expected vote, with party analysis suggesting there is a clear majority for Heathrow.
While a vote in the House of Commons this year is not essential, Cabinet sources said they expect a speedy vote to be held after Cabinet signs off a decision.
To limit the political fallout from backing Heathrow, the Government is expected to give MPs a free vote, meaning politicians would not be told by the party which side to back – though no decision has been taken.
The move is seen as a way to allow Mr Johnson and Ms Greening to stick by their principled opposition to Heathrow while not having to resign from the Government.
John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor, is among dozens of Labour MPs who also oppose Heathrow expansion and are expected to vote against the move.
The airport expansion cabinet committee is expected to meet either this Tuesday or the one after to discuss which option to pick, with the decision to be ratified at full Cabinet afterwards.
Windsor and Maidenhead council – which represented many of Mrs May’s constituents – is one of four which has pledged to seek a judicial review if Heathrow is approved.
Maidenhead and the other three councils – Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth – have each set aside £50,000 to fight the legal challenge.
Manchester Airports Group, which owns Stansted, has also warned it will take legal action if speculation that both Heathrow and Gatwick will win approval is proved true.
Asked about concerns the airport expansion decision would trigger a Tory backlash, a Number 10 source said the Prime Minister would act in the national interest.
9.03 There are two ways in which members of the House can table amendments or motions on a statutory instrument to express criticism without challenging the instrument directly.
9.04 First, an amendment or motion may be moved regretting some aspect of a statutory instrument but in no way requiring the government to take action. This provides an opportunity for critical views to appear on the order paper and be voted upon which would otherwise simply be voiced in the debate. Such motions are invitations to the House to put on record a particular point of view. Even if carried, the motion or amendment has no practical effect: the House passes the instrument in any event.
9.05 Secondly, a motion or amendment may be moved calling on the government to take some specific action. Such motions have been used to invite the government to amend subordinate legislation, thereby avoiding the need to vote on the legislation itself.
Politicians urge May to back Heathrow third runway
16 October 2016 (BBC)
The prime minister has been urged by 50 politicians to give the green light to a new runway at Heathrow.
The group from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland called on Theresa May to approve a third runway at the airport, describing it as “our gateway to the world”.
The government could make a decision as early as this week. [Probably not this week].
Mrs May is believed not to favour a compromise option that would see both Heathrow and Gatwick build new runways.
The group urging the prime minister to approve Heathrow expansion includes Welsh Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Stephen Crabb, Northern Irish DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and Welsh Labour’s Stephen Kinnock.
All three signed the letter to Mrs May which argued: “Although Heathrow is in London, it is the UK’s hub airport.
“Other countries are investing in and supporting their hub, or looking on enviously as they hub through other countries.
“Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have our own successful and growing airports.
“But Heathrow is our gateway to the world, bringing tourists to our attractions and helping our exporters reach new markets.
“Whether we are connected by road, rail or air, we know that connections to Heathrow are a key driver of investment decisions.
“Expanding Heathrow will create nearly four times more jobs in our three nations than other options being considered.”
‘Fight tooth and nail’
Mrs May faces considerable opposition to a third runway at Heathrow within her own cabinet as well as the Conservative Party and former Prime Minister David Cameron repeatedly put off making a decision.
Tory MP Adam Afriyie said he would vote against Heathrow expansion in defiance of party whips if there was no free vote in the House of Commons.
The Windsor MP told the BBC’s Sunday Politics show: “Oh, 100% yes. I’m going to fight tooth and nail.”
Conservative MP MP Zac Goldsmith has already warned Mrs May she faces losing Conservative MPs and councils if she backs Heathrow expansion.
The former London mayoral candidate has promised to quit as an MP if Mrs May give her backing to a third runway at the airport.
Fellow Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng [always in favour of the runway, despite the impacts of Heathrow on his constituency of Spelthorne] said reports that there are 60 opponents within the party are “way off the mark”, telling the programme there are about “20 hardcore people” .
A cabinet sub-committee is due to meet, possibly as early as this week, to examine the arguments for the three options set out in last year’s Airports Commission report.
The commission recommended in July 2015 that a third runway should be built at Heathrow.
Other options are extending the airport’s existing northern runway or building a second runway at Gatwick
The Labour MPs below signed a letter in support of Heathrow. Below is a little detail about why they may have done this:
Jim Fitzpatrick MP (Poplar and Limehouse); Aviation Minister under Labour when they were proposing 3rdrunway. Genuinely believes in the case for it.
Mike Gapes MP (Ilford South). Understood to believe big infrastructure generally is a good thing.
David Lammy MP (Tottenham) May have been convinced by Heathrow’s arguments.
Siobhain McDonagh MP (Mitcham and Morden) Has family connections to the Blairite wing of the Party that pushed so hard for a new runway under Labour
Gareth Thomas MP (Harrow West) Ws a leading light in SERA (Labour’s internal environment pressure group). Now wants runways everywhere!
Stephen Timms MP (East Ham) Long-time infrastructure man. Big supporter of City Airport expansion too.
Virendra Sharma MP (Ealing, Southall) Changed his mind under influence of Heathrow. Resigned from his junior post in the Labour Government in protest against the 3rd runway. Now believes the conditions will mitigate the impact. Lots of Heathrow-related jobs in his constituency.
Wes Streeting MP (Ilford North) New, young bright MP. Supportive of the opposition to City Airport, but believes Crossrail will open up opportunities for his constituents to get to Heathrow. New Labour.