Bill for Heathrow expansion vote passes first stage

28.2.2009   (Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport UK News)

A bill proposed by a Liberal Democrat MP for a vote to be held on whether Heathrow
airport should be expanded has passed its first stage through parliament with
a majority of 44.

Under the Airport Expansion Parliamentary Approval Bill, put forward by Liberal
Democrat MP Susan Kramer, parliamentary votes would be required for all major
airport expansion schemes.
Some of the many MPs who backed the Bill – holding a replica of the mace!

Ms Kramer wants all MPs to vote on plans to expand London’s Heathrow airport
– rather than ministers making the decision – and claimed that she is motivated
by a concern about the potential impact on the environment and the rights of parliament.

The bill has been opposed by Conservative MP David Wilshire, who suggested that
it will delay planning processes and affect the local economy around the airport.

Plans to build a third runway at Heathrow airport have been given the green light
by the government but have been opposed by some politicians and campaign groups.

In other news, Thomas Burns, of the SDLP party, has declared that there is no
need to create a second international airport in Belfast and greater investment
is needed instead at Belfast International Airport.


see also

article   24.2.2009 in This is Local London at

Susan Kramer wins support for airport expansion bill



More details of the    Airport Expansion Parliamentary Approval Bill     at:

2nd Reading is on 20th March 2009.


The 1st Reading debate in the Commons:


Hansard       –     24 Feb 2009 : Column 170

Airport Expansion (Parliamentary Approval)

     Motion for leave to introduce a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)


4.31 pm

       Susan Kramer (Richmond Park) (LD): I beg to move,

    That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Planning Act 2008 to require
    parliamentary approval for proposals for the building of new major airports and
    additional runways at existing major airports; and for connected purposes.

     The purpose of the Bill is to allow this House, through an amendment to the Planning
Act 2008, a vote—the final say—on any new major airport in England or any new
runway at a major airport in England. There are three characteristics to this
Bill: it is motivated by concern about climate change; it is motivated by concern
about the democratic deficit and for the rights of this House, as balanced against
the authority of the Executive; and it is genuinely cross-party.

     I just wish to mention the timing. My introducing this ten-minute Bill has partly
been triggered by proposals for a third runway at Heathrow and the Government’s
decision not to allow a full debate in Government time with a vote that will matter
so that this House can exercise its genuine opinion.

     However, the Bill is about far more than that. Hon. Members will know that an
additional runway is proposed for Stansted airport—that issue is being addressed
in the High Court today. The constraints on an additional runway at Gatwick expire
in 2019, and Hochtief, one of a number of bidders for Gatwick airport, which is
up for sale, has expressed its interest—other bidders probably have, too—in an
additional runway at Gatwick. The Mayor of London has proposed a new estuary airport
which, from the current discussion, would involve four additional runways, in
addition to Heathrow, and the potential for expansion to six runways—those would
be operated 24 hours a day. In addition, a number of regional airports up and
down the country have proposed an expansion of their capacity—the airports at
Manchester, Bristol, Bournemouth and Birmingham all have various plans to add
various amounts of capacity.

     When the issue of Heathrow was debated on 28 January, the Secretary of State
for Energy and Climate Change told us that it was an issue about "half" a runway.
I suggest that he was being disingenuous, because this is a far broader issue.
We are facing one of the biggest expansion plans for aviation capacity ever considered
in this country, and we are doing so exactly when climate change is supposed to
be somewhere near to the top, or at the top, of our agenda.

     May I say a word or two about climate change? This House is overwhelmingly convinced
of the importance of climate change as an issue—there may be one or two hold-outs,
but in every region, and across every party, this is a major issue of concern.
The House has also accepted that we have only an extremely limited time in which
to act. Virtually every report that we receive—whether it is on the disappearance
of Arctic sea ice, the rate of melting of inland ice in Greenland or the quantity
of greenhouse gases emitted—suggests that the past scenarios have woefully understated
the problem and that the urgency is far greater than we thought.

 24 Feb 2009 : Column 171

     As for the consequences of climate change, we have seen a little of the impact
of extreme weather conditions in the UK and the rest of the developed world, but
we know that the impact on Africa and the developing world will be far more extreme.
The potential for conflict across the globe grows, as climate change leads to
issues of disappearance and allocation of resources.

     The House has accepted that aviation is a significant contributor to climate
change. At the moment, some 13 per cent. of the UK’s contribution to climate change
emissions comes from aviation, including some 6 per cent. of the UK’s CO2 emissions.
We know that that figure will rise to 25 per cent. by 2038 unless we drastically
change the direction of policy. Given the role that aviation plays in climate
change, are we really saying that we will never again allow Members of Parliament
to have a vote on such a significant issue? In effect, that is where Government
legislation has left us.

     We talk about the democratic deficit, but the Government say, "Don’t worry. We
will require that aviation brings CO2 emissions back to 2005 levels by 2050."
But the question is how that will be achieved. The technologies do not exist and
the science is not in place, never mind the investment. The Government have also
said that aviation is a special case. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate
Change has said:


    "We must all accept the principle that aviation will not bear as big a burden
    as other sectors in the economy."—[ Official Report, 28 January 2009; Vol. 487, c. 404.]

     Must we really accept that without knowing the impact on other industries, on
our regions, and on jobs in our constituencies? Indeed, must we accept that without
a vote? On an issue that is crucial to the future of our country and our planet,
and when every strategy is untried and uncertain, what are we doing giving up
our right, and the right of this House, to decide?

     This is a genuinely cross-party Bill. In fact, it is a Back Benchers’ Bill. It
has three Labour sponsors, three Conservative sponsors, a Plaid Cymru sponsor
and four Liberal Democrat sponsors. If I were able to add more sponsors, the list
would continue to reflect the make-up of this House very directly.

     I carefully read the speeches made on 28 January in the debate on Heathrow introduced
by the Conservatives. Fairly or unfairly, some Labour Members could not bring
themselves to vote for an Opposition motion. This Bill is not an Opposition motion,
so that inhibition disappears. Some Labour Members thought that the 28 January
motion was not clear enough, even though it was based on the early-day motion
tabled by the hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Grogan). The hon. Member for Islington,
South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) said:


    "I will go home because there is no motion for Members of Parliament like me
    who want to halt the expansion of aviation".—[ Official Report, 28 January 2009; Vol. 487, c. 388.]

     That does not apply to this Bill. Indeed, I suspect that Members who favour airport
expansion but care about the rights of this House can see a way to support this
Bill, because it is about the democratic deficit as much as it is about climate
change and aviation.

     There are times when we have to delegate our responsibilities, but when we are
facing the biggest challenge of our lifetime, when our knowledge is so
uncertain, and when the cost of a wrong decision is so high, we cannot say, "Oh,
the Climate Change Committee will decide." We cannot say, "The Infrastructure
Planning Commission will decide." We cannot even say that the Government should
decide, unchallenged and unchallengeable by any vote. Our constituents expect
us to shoulder crucial responsibilities, and on that basis, I ask hon. Members
to support this Bill.


(Then David Wilshire spoke)



     That Susan Kramer, John McDonnell, Mr. John Randall, Adam Price, Norman Baker,
Mr. John Grogan, Justine Greening, Mr. Edward Davey, Martin Salter, Adam Afriyie,
Dr. Vincent Cable and Sarah Teather present the Bill.

     Susan Kramer accordingly presented the Bill.

     Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 20 March , and to be printed (Bill 63 ).


More details and voting details at