Boris Johnson’s warfare threat if Airports Commission report pushes “catastrophic mistake” of Heathrow expansion
Boris has threatened open warfare against the Airports Commission if it makes the “catastrophic mistake” of pushing for Heathrow expansion, in its interim report. He launched a pre-emptive strike after it emerged that commission head Sir Howard Davies has briefed senior Government figures (including Osborne) a few days ago, a week in advance of the report’s launch, that it opposes every runway option other than Heathrow. The leaks indicate that Sir Howard indicated he planned a shortlist of three options, all of which involved expanding Heathrow. The first was to revive a 3rd runway, which David Cameron originally pledged to stop, only to change his mind in the face of business pressure. Option two was to approve Heathrow’s latest expansion blueprint, for 2 extra runways. Option three was one extra runway at Heathrow plus one extra runway at Gatwick. Speaking from Doha where he is on a trade mission, Boris said: “I cannot conceivably believe that Howard Davies would inflict the misery of a 3rd runway at Heathrow, let alone a 4th, on a million people or more in west London.” Mind you, Boris still wants his mega airport in the Thames estuary. The Standard says: Mr Johnson’s mood was said to be of shock and incredulity — but also a “steely resolve” to fight the plan.
Boris Johnson’s warfare threat if report pushes Heathrow expansion
11 December 2013 (Evening Standard)
Boris Johnson today threatened open warfare against the Airports Commission if it makes the “catastrophic mistake” of pushing for Heathrow expansion next week.
The Mayor launched a pre-emptive strike after claims at Westminster that commission head Sir Howard Davies has briefed senior figures that it opposes every other option. Whitehall sources confirmed to the Standard that the commission has been speaking to senior government figures ahead of his interim report, due on Tuesday.
It is claimed that Sir Howard indicated he planned a shortlist of three options, all of which involved expanding Heathrow. The first was to revive a third runway, which David Cameron originally pledged to stop, only to change his mind in the face of business pressure. Option two was to approve Heathrow’s latest expansion blueprint, for two extra runways. Option three was one extra runway at Heathrow plus one extra runway at Gatwick — the so-called Heathwick solution.
According to a highly placed source, Chancellor George Osborne responded to the proposals by suggesting that a fourth option be added to make the final version look more balanced and independent. This might be for Stansted expansion or for a new site on the Thames estuary.
The Treasury would not deny today that Mr Osborne had been involved in discussions with the commission. No 10 also declined to deny the detailed claims. A spokesman would only say: “The commission is independent. Its work is a matter for it.”
The claims caused a furore today, with anti-Heathrow campaigners accusing the Government of trying to railroad through the expansion of London’s busiest airport.
Speaking from Doha where he is on a trade mission, the Mayor of London said: “I cannot conceivably believe that Howard Davies would inflict the misery of a third runway at Heathrow, let alone a fourth, on a million people or more in west London. I’ve engaged in this process in good faith. Howard Davies surely understands that a 24-hour hub airport to the east of London, preferably the site at Grain, represents the best chance for this country to compete with our Continental rivals. To miss that point, to fail to consider that option, would be a catastrophic mistake and one that must not happen.”
Mr Johnson’s mood was said to be of shock and incredulity — but also a “steely resolve” to fight the plan.
Zac Goldsmith, Tory MP for Richmond Park, said the independence of the commission had been called into question. “Osborne wants Heathrow expansion, and it was always going to reach the same conclusion,” he said.
“But even that fig leaf of independence appears to have blown off by… a last-minute bogus fourth option purely for the convenience of No 10, which wants to maintain a dishonest ambiguity until after the election.”
John Stewart, who chairs anti-expansion group Hacan, said: “Davies has put Heathrow front and centre of his thinking. There will be fury across whole swathes of London and the Home Counties.”
Mr Cameron set up the commission last autumn in a bid to postpone the controversy until after polling day. Gatwick chief Stewart Wingate said there was no case for simultaneous building of a runway at Heathrow and another at Gatwick. “Clearly we see Gatwick as the best option for delivering affordable air connections the UK needs.”
Figures from Transport for London indicate that the cost of building new roads and high-speed rail links for a 4 runway Heathrow would be in the region of £25 billion.
TfL calculated that links to cater for an additional 40 million passengers a year for a 3rd Heathrow runway would cost £12 billion. TfL said that enhanced links for a 4-runway Heathrow with 150 million passengers/ year would cost £25 billion. TfL link
Heathrow campaigners furious over leak that Sir Howard Davies is backing 2 new runways at Heathrow
Date added: December 11, 2013
Heathrow campaigners have reacted with anger and disbelief to the leaked news that the Airports Commission Interim Report, which is due to be published on 17th December, favours 2 more runways at Heathrow. From the leaks, the Commission is expected to go for a 3rd runway at Heathrow followed by a 4th Heathrow runway or a second runway at Gatwick. The draft of the report, presented to Chancellor George Osborne, ruled out new runways at Stansted or an Estuary Airport. It is thought, however, that Tuesday’s report may formally retain more options in an attempt to give it some balance. This news will cause fury across whole swathes of London and the Home Counties. with the Airports Commission’s work over the next two years in selecting from its “short list” seen as a “busted flush” with its decision already taken. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN – which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said: “It is astonishing that Davies has put so much faith in an option he must know is politically the hardest to deliver. The one good thing is that he will force political parties to come out for or against a 3rd runway before the 2015 General Election.” Another Heathrow runway means thousands of people stand to lose their homes. They are not going to stand by and let that happen. The campaign against a 3rd runway starts today.
Heathrow 3rd runway being pushed ahead by government, says Goldsmith
December 11, 2013
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith – on Twitter – has claimed the government was trying to push through a 3rd runway at Heathrow by hiding behind initial recommendations made by the independent Airports Commission,chaired by Sir Howard Davies, whose interim report is due out next week. Zac has accused George Osborne of “yearning for a China-style government”, saying on Twitter: “Osborne has spent public money on a review whose only purpose is to make a 3rd runway decision look like it was reached independently.” This comes after “sources close to the inquiry,” which will recommend where a new runway for London should be built, claimed Davies would set out 3 options for extra airport capacity in the south-east in the interim report – which is due to be revealed on the morning of 17th December. The 3 are thought to be: 1). A 3rd Heathrow runway. 2). A 3rd and 4th runway at Heathrow. 3). Another runway at both Heathrow and Gatwick. The Guardian says if the initial speculation is correct and Heathrow is the main focus, this is a potential source of embarrassment for the government. The Guardian adds that: ” One source said Davies had been asked by No 10 to broaden the shortlist to avert any outcry about Heathrow. But this could not be verified.”
Gatwick chairman says Gatwick could not get their money back on a 2nd runway if Heathrow builds a 3rd
December 12, 2013
Gatwick’s Chairman says it will not build a second runway if the British government allows a simultaneous expansion at Heathrow. Roy McNulty said building a Gatwick 2nd runway was a “bet the company type of investment” and the timescale of getting returns on the project would double if Heathrow was allowed to expand at the same time. He said Gatwick would also be wary if it was only allowed to expand sometime after Heathrow constructed a 3rd runway. Heathrow would remove the traffic Gatwick would need to run a new runway profitably. His comments were prompted by the leak, a week early, of the Airports Commission’s interim report and its shortlist of schemes for new runways – all of which appear to involve another runway at Heathrow. Gatwick, owned by GIP (who are likely to want to sell it before 2020) suggested in July that they could build a new runway for around £9 billion, rather than over £14 billion for one at Heathrow. lt could take a decade to build either – if they could indeed ever get planning permission and meet all social and environmental constraints.