Standard reports that Shadow Transport Secretary, Maria Eagle, is “warming towards” a Gatwick runway

The Labour Party shifted last year from its post-election position of being against a 3rd runway at Heathrow to being “sceptical” about it.  Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle has publicly ruled out a new Heathrow runway, and also a Thames estuary airport. However, the Evening Standard reports that Ms Eagle is now understood (how is not explained) to see a new Gatwick runway as a stronger contender than a new runway at  Stansted, if the Airports Commission concludes that the South-East needs extra aviation capacity.   Gatwick is opening new routes, including to the Far East, as it seeks to become a rival to Heathrow while Stansted still has spare capacity. While at the end of last year Labour was pressing for the Commission to report earlier than 2015, it now says it will await the conclusions before drawing up its new policy. That is current Labour policy. Supporting expansion at Gatwick, or Stansted, has not been agreed by the shadow cabinet.


Labour warms to Gatwick expansion

New routes: Gatwick is seeking to become serious rival to Heathrow

 by Nicholas Cecil  (Evening Standard)

24 April 2013

Labour was moving towards backing a second runway at Gatwick before a review was set up into Britain’s airport needs, the Standard reveals today.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle has already publicly ruled out a third runway at Heathrow, doing a U-turn on Gordon Brown’s firm support for expanding the airport.

She has also rejected Boris Johnson’s idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary, largely on cost grounds, branding it an “unworkable fantasy”. A second runway at Gatwick cannot be built before 2019 under a planning agreement.

Ms Eagle, though, is understood to have seen such a development at the Sussex airport as a stronger contender than expanding Stansted, if the South-East needed extra aviation capacity.

Gatwick is opening new routes, including to the Far East, as it seeks to become a rival to Heathrow while Stansted still has spare capacity.

The shadow cabinet minister is adamant that the Davies Commission into the UK’s airport capacity should not be pre-empted. While Labour wanted Sir Howard Davies, the former head of the London School of Economics leading the review, to publish its final report before the 2015 election, it will await its conclusions before drawing up its new policy. Supporting expansion at Gatwick, or Stansted, had also not been agreed by the shadow cabinet.

However, both party leader Ed Miliband and Ms Eagle remain “sceptical” about another runway at Heathrow.Labour, like the Conservatives, is divided over the future of the west London airport.




Labour party position – to wait for more information. 



When the Crawley News asked each council member individually for their views last week, we received a call from Peter Lamb, head of the council’s Labour group, saying he was concerned posing the question now could cause division in his group.

And councillor Lamb has subsequently admitted e-mailing Labour councillors reminding them of the party position – that they would all wait for more information – despite admitting some of those councillors have opposing views.

All the Labour councillors bar one – Bill Ward – declined to express a firm opinion either way.

Peter Barclay, joint vice-chairman of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said he felt the Labour councillors had been gagged.

He said: “I know a couple of the Labour councillors and they are against the runway. These councillors should be allowed to exercise their independence. One hopes they would reflect the views of their constituents and speak their own mind, rather than toe the party line.

“This is a local issue. They shouldn’t be swayed by party politics. Speaking your mind is one of the bastions of British democracy. They shouldn’t be frightened to express their views, and I’m quite surprised.

“Our view, of course, is that one [runway] is enough.”

Gatwick Diamond Business’ Keith Pordum is for a second runway, and said this was an important issue that needed people to speak up now.

He said: “We want jobs here. If they don’t come from Gatwick, then where will they come from? Gatwick Airport is the economic heartbeat of the region. I expect the proposals for a second runway to be supported – and we need people to speak up now.”

Labour group leader Peter Lamb denied “whipping” his councillors into toeing the party line – but did accept an email had gone out after the News had got in touch “reminding” his group of the party position – and that although they hadn’t spoken up publicly, some of the Labour group were against a second runway.

He said: “There are one or two members who feel that way [that the runway should not be built].

“We are going to wait until there is some evidence.

“We’re not going to set out a position on the most significant decision for the town until we know the details – that would be irresponsible.”

Denying he had told people how to respond to our survey, he added he had sent an email and “reminded people what had been agreed” at an earlier meeting in November where the issue had been discussed.




Labour joins call to fast-track airports review – to get Davies to report before 2015 election

23 October 2012 (Evening Standard)

Labour has joined  Boris in demanding that a review into London’s airports be completed before the next election. Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle has warned that delaying the report of the independent commission to be headed by Sir Howard Davies until after 2015 risked “kicking the issue into the long grass.” Maria Eagle said  “There will therefore be no possibility of cross-party talks in advance of the election to establish whether consensus can be reached to support Sir Howard’s recommendations — and no opportunity to make the manifesto commitments that mean these are significantly more likely to become a reality.”  Labour has shifted its post-election position from being against a 3rd runway at Heathrow to being “sceptical” about  it.  Ms Eagle also said (at the AOA conference) that the delay in the review would make it harder to form a policy on the proposed high-speed rail route.