Patrick McLoughlin insists government has not yet decided on runway options, despite Osborne rumours
Date added: October 31, 2015
It is still thought likely that the government will make some sort of announcement on whether it backs a runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, by the end of the year. Whether that will come before Christmas Eve is anyone’s guess. The Times reported that George Osborne may be convinced by the Airports Commission report and is therefore ready to rule out Gatwick, considering it is “Heathrow or nothing.” But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said that the Government may reject the recommendation of the Commission’s report, that Heathrow should be expanded. He said the report had just given 3 “options” with a “preferred option”, rather than a ruling with much weight. “…we are looking at the options that it gave us. We are doing the work that is required to see how those three options stack up.” He argued the Government would have to see if some of the report’s recommendations were “actually doable”, and that though the work of the Commission would make a decision on expansion easier, questions still remained. An ally of the Chancellor told the Times: “George doesn’t have a settled view on this. He just wants to see a runway built somewhere as soon as possible once all the proper processes are concluded.” . Tweet
McLoughlin insists airports commission which backed Heathrow gave ‘options’
30.10.2015 (Politics Home)
Patrick McLoughlin has given the clearest signal yet that the Government may reject the recommendation of the Davies report that Heathrow should be expanded.
A decision on which airport will receive the long-awaited expansion programme will be made by the Government before Christmas, David Cameron has said.
Transport Secretary Patrick Mcloughlin insisted the report had given “options” with a “preferred option”, rather than a ruling with much weight.
“It gave us three options – we are looking at the options that it gave us. We are doing the work that is required to see how those three options stack up,” he told Radio 4’s Today Programme.
“It looked at a lot of other options and ruled those out and it came forward eventually with three.
“Yes, it came come forward with a preferred option but its right that we listen to the representations we are getting.”
The Cabinet minister argued the Government would have to see if some of the report’s recommendations were “actually doable”.
Mr McLoughlin said the work of the commission would make a decision on expansion easier, but that questions still remained.
“Of course there are questions as a result of that report which are now being worked on and we will take a decision in due course,” he said.
‘HEATHROW OR NOTHING’
Chancellor George Osborne has similarly suggested the report’s decision could be rejected, arguing in a recent interview it had recommended expansion at “Heathrow or Gatwick”.
But today’s Times reports that Mr Osborne is expected to come out against Gatwick in the coming weeks, declaring: “Heathrow or nothing”.
Mr Osborne will face criticism from within his own party if he does so, including from high-profile anti-Heathrow campaigners Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith.
In its report, the commission said a third runway at Heathrow would add £147bn to economic growth and 70,000 jobs by 2050. [No, it said that, based on a novel economic model, it might produce “up to” £147 billion over 60 years, up to 2080. In more conventional assessments, the Commission said this might fall to £1.4 billion benefit over 60 years. That is tiny. Details below AW note]
Sir Howard said the economic arguments for a new Heathrow runway were “much greater” than Gatwick’s alternative proposal.
“Heathrow offers the kind of long haul connectivity flights to emerging markets which are very important to the future of the British economy, and expanding it would allow Heathrow to offer more of those flights, [while] Gatwick is much more focussed on short haul intra-European flying,” he said at the time.
“Heathrow is also, by a long, long way, the centre for air freight, which is increasingly important particularly to those markets, and there is a network of logistics companies around Heathrow which support the airport, so you’d get a big boost to air freight exports as well.”
Not “up to” £147 billion by 2050, but perhaps as little as £1.4 billion by about 2080
It is remarkable that the Airports Commission itself has this figure of net benefit of a Heathrow runway at just £1.4 billion over 60 years. See point 3.148 on P89 of the Commission’s Business Case and Sustainability Assessment – Heathrow NR Runway
Osborne set to rule out runway at Gatwick – sources
30.10.2015 (Politics Home)
George Osborne is reportedly set to rule out a third runway at Gatwick in a bid to boost the case for expansion of Heathrow.
The Times reports sources close to Mr Osborne claiming he had been convinced by the Davies report and is therefore ready to rule out Gatwick.
But one ally of the Chancellor told the Times: “George doesn’t have a settled view on this. He just wants to see a runway built somewhere as soon as possible once all the proper processes are concluded.”
A committee of ministers, of which Mr Osborne is a part, will take the decision in the next few weeks.
. The Times says that: Officials in the DfT are poring over the Airports Commission’s findings along with Treasury officials and lawyers. They are taking fresh evidence from Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as the proposers of the Heathrow Hub scheme. [The DfT needs to ask them its own questions, to try to see if a scheme could be made to work. AW note]
The runway issue will be discussed by a ten-strong cabinet sub-committee, led by David Cameron, although it emerged last week that the final decision would only be taken after the prime minister referred the issue to the full cabinet.
The economic affairs (airports) sub-committee to decide on the runway issue includes Mr Osborne, Sajid Javid, the business secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, Liz Truss, the environment secretary, and Greg Clark, the communities secretary.
It does not include any critics of Heathrow, such as Philip Hammond, Theresa May, Justine Greening, or Greg Hands, or Boris Johnson who all have constituencies near the airport.
The Times was told yesterday that, with Mr Cameron due to stand down by the end of this parliament, he is more concerned with the split that any decision will cause in the party than damage to his own reputation.