Corbyn said to be ready to oppose Heathrow runway, partly due to air pollution
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to make air pollution a key campaign issue over the next year which could have “significant implications” for expansion at Heathrow. Writing to senior Labour members, he warned that a 3rd Heathrow runway could worsen the government’s “dreadful record on air quality”. He said “more than 50,000 premature deaths a year” are estimated to be caused by air pollution, and this has been brought into sharp relief by the VW diesel deceit story. A party source said: “Jeremy is clear that he expects Labour to now oppose a third runway at Heathrow. It is now up to the Government to decide what to do.” The decision by Labour to officially come out against a third runway will be a major stumbling block for Heathrow expansion. Jeremy Corbyn campaigned against Heathrow expansion during the Labour leadership contest. However, when the Airports Commission recommendation of a Heathrow runway was announced on 1st June, Labour’s then shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher suggested Labour would back this, as did Harriet Harman.
Corbyn ready to oppose Heathrow expansion
By Tom Newcombe (Buying Business Travel)
13 Oct 2015
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to make air pollution a key campaign issue over the next year which could have “significant implications” for expansion at Heathrow.
In a memo to senior members of his party, seen by The Independent, Corbyn warned that a third runway at Heathrow could worsen the government’s “dreadful record on air quality”.
The decision by the Airports Commission to recommend expansion at Heathrow has been criticised over air pollution levels at the west London hub which currently exceed EU regulations.
A decision is expected to be made on expansion by the end of the year.
“One issue that I want us to highlight over the next few months is the Government’s dreadful record on air quality and the more than 50,000 premature deaths a year it is estimated this causes,” the memo said.
“This is brought into sharp relief by the Volkswagen Diesel deceit story which we should pursue energetically… (But) the issue also has significant implications for any decision on airport expansion. I would encourage you to work closely together on this.”
A party source said: “Jeremy is clear that he expects Labour to now oppose a third runway at Heathrow. It is now up to the Government to decide what to do.”
If Corbyn officially opposes Heathrow expansion he will join a list of influential MPs who have also spoke out against it, including Sadiq Kahn, Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith.
Last week, Heathrow published images of what a third runway would like.
Jeremy Corbyn calls on Labour to put pollution on the agenda by opposing Heathrow expansion
The Labour leader warns a third runway at the airport could exacerbate the Government’s ‘dreadful record on air quality’
By Oliver Wright, Charlie Cooper (Independent)
Jeremy Corbyn has signalled that he expects Labour MPs to oppose a third Heathrow runway – warning that the development could exacerbate the Government’s “dreadful record on air quality”.
In a memo to senior members of his Shadow Cabinet seen by The Independent, Mr Corbyn linked the planned Heathrow development with the scandal over polluting diesel cars.
He also called for Labour to make air pollution a key campaign issue over the next few months, suggesting it should have “significant implications for any decision on airport expansion”.
“Jeremy is clear that he expects Labour to now oppose a third runway at Heathrow,” a party source said. “It is now up to the Government to decide what to do.”
The decision by Labour to officially come out against a third runway will be a major stumbling block for Heathrow expansion.
When the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, came out in favour of building a new runway in July, Labour’s then shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher suggested the party would back his recommendations. But Mr Corbyn campaigned against Heathrow expansion during the Labour leadership contest and is now signalling that he expects the rest of the party to fall in line.
Labour today confirmed they will back Heathrow expansion – but the party are not completely united on the issue.
Today the Airports Commission, also known as the Davies Commission, has recommended that a third runway should be built at Heathrow. It was thought the Commission might leave room for expansion to take place at Gatwick. However after three years of investigation, the Commission has concluded that it is “clear and unanimous” that Heathrow is the best place for a new runway to be built. Only if noise and air pollution conditions are met.
Labour have decided to back this expansion. Michael Dugher, Shadow Transport Secretary, is thought to personally be in support of the runway. Before the party officially declared their position at PMQs this lunchtime, Dugher said:
“Labour has always been clear that more airport capacity is vital to Britain’s economic success and we need action if we are to maintain our status as Europe’s most important aviation hub.
“We will scrutinise the Airports Commission’s final report carefully. If the recommendation can meet a number of tests, including consistency with our climate change obligations, we will take a swift decision to back Sir Howard Davies’ proposals.”
On a similar note, Labour MP Louise Ellman, who chair of the transport select committee, said she strongly supported the Commission’s recommendations:
“Sir Howard’s findings echo those of the committee I chaired in the last parliament, when we concluded that a third runway at Heathrow was necessary for the UK to maintain its status as an international aviation hub.
“A new runway at Heathrow would also help to meet the current capacity shortfall, and provide a much-needed opportunity to improve connectivity from airports across the regions and nations of the UK.”
Harriet Harman confirmed Labour’s support for a third runway at PMQs today, telling Cameron that if he were to bring forward legislation supporting the Davies Report’s findings, Labour would vote in favour. Cameron said the Government would come to a decision by the end of the year. The PM face pressure from current London Mayor Boris Johnson and the likely Tory candidate for the job in 2016, Zac Goldsmith, to oppose a third runway.
However, Labour, like the Conservatives, are divided over the issue. London Mayoral candidates Diane Abbott, Sadiq Khan and Christian Wolmar (who is also a transport expert) are all opposed to expansion.
Khan, former shadow justice secretary, came out against a third runway recently despite having previously backed the proposition. The MP for Tooting has argued that expansion should be ruled out on the grounds of “awful air quality”, noise and inadequate infrastructure. Of all the candidates in the race (excluding Wolmar, who has never been an MP) Abbott is the only one who voted against a third runway at Heathrow under Gordon Brown.
Not all mayoral candidates are anti-expansion; Gareth Thomas has declared his support for a third runway.He argued: “I think Londoners support airport expansion and understands the number of jobs it can bring to the area. There is a vociferous minority opposing expansion, but I am not sure they representative of what most Londoners think .”
Tessa Jowell is thought to be in favour of expansion but has previously said she was waiting for the publication of the Davies Commission until she declared her official position. She has yet to make a statement on this. Similarly David Lammy has offered his tentative support for the proposals