Labour divided as 30 northern Labour MPs back Heathrow expansion, believing it would help their regions
Nearly 30 northern Labour MPs have signed a letter backing a 3rd Heathrow. The letter to Lillian Greenwood, shadow transport secretary, was signed by members of the PLP Northern Group. They include senior figures such as Chi Onwurah, Kevan Jones, and Nick Brown. This may be an indication of the Labour party’s divisions over the issue. Key to David Cameron’s calculations will be whether he can win enough backing in Parliament for Heathrow expansion, given that it is opposed by several of his senior colleagues including Zac Goldsmith, Boris Johnson and Justine Greening. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are against a Heathrow runway, but it is not clear if Mr Corbyn would order Labour’s 232 MPs to vote against it. If as many as 26 Labour MPs from one region are in favour of the Heathrow runway it suggests that Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell’s views are not shared by all the rest of the party. The PLP Northern Group hope the regions would benefit from a Heathrow runway, and (like everyone else other than a few with the time and abilities to understand it all) have not read the Airports Commission’s papers in detail – showing negative implications for regional airports from a new runway. A rather flimsy paper by “Quod”, setting out predictions of growth and jobs for the regions, is the basis of hopes by regional MPs.
Labour divided as northern Labour MPs back Heathrow expansion
Jim Pickard and Tanya Powley (Financial Times)
Nearly 30 northern Labour MPs have signed a letter backing a third runway at London Heathrow airport in the clearest sign yet of the opposition Labour party’s divisions over the issue.
David Cameron, prime minister, will make a decision by the end of the year over whether to back Heathrow’s expansion, as recommended by an independent commission and many business leaders, or to plump instead for a second runway at Gatwick to the south of London.
Key to Mr Cameron’s calculations will be whether he can win enough backing in parliament for Heathrow expansion, given that it is opposed by several of his senior colleagues including Zac Goldsmith, Boris Johnson and Justine Greening.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, have opposed the runway on environmental grounds but it is not clear that Mr Corbyn would order Labour’s 232 MPs to vote against the scheme.
Mr McDonnell, whose constituency includes Heathrow, addressed a protest rally against expansion of the airport last month, telling the crowd that local people were “literally dying” from air “poisoned by the aviation industry”.
If as many as 26 Labour MPs from one region are in favour of the third Heathrow runway it suggests that Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell’s views are not shared by all the rest of the party.
The letter to Lillian Greenwood, shadow transport secretary, was signed by members of the PLP Northern Group. They include senior figures such as Chi Onwurah, shadow business minister, Kevan Jones, shadow defence minister, and Nick Brown, former chief whip.
They argue that the aviation decision will affect not just the south east but the whole of the country. The north east is the only region that is a net exporter, they add, “increasing our connectivity to the world, both for our people and our goods, is also key to further improving the north east’s export performance and supporting economic growth and job creation”.
The letter cites research by the airports commission suggesting a third runway could create 5,100 jobs in the north east. Having a larger successful hub airport would benefit the whole of the UK, it adds. [See below for this]
Full FT article at
The flimsy little 4 page paper on which the claims of jobs etc is based is by “Quod” and is at
West Country Conservative MP says “London mustn’t have a veto on Heathrow” – led to believe a runway would benefit his region
An MP from the South West, Dr Liam Fox (MP for North Somerset) has said that a decision on a runway for the south east should not be made by people in London alone. Though he does graciously concede that: “Residents of west London who live beneath the flightpath do have legitimate concerns” he says “the capital must not be allowed to dominate a debate that is about the future of the whole UK.” And he produces the figures of benefit of a 3rd Heathrow runway to the South West of “a £10 billion increase in economic activity, as well as 12,300 new jobs.” Unfortunately these figures are actually up to 2050. They also come from a (4 page) paper from consultants employed by Heathrow airport, long before the Airports Commission’s final report. Dr Fox believes there will be a big expansion in business air travel, and that there will be many more flights to regional airports, like those in the SW. He does not seem to have read the Commission’s comments about there being regional flights to only 4 domestic airports (from 7 now) by 2050, or Howard Davies’ comments to the London Assembly about regional airports being likely to close. Dr Fox – and other MPs in the regions – would perhaps do well to understand the limitations and failings of the Commission’s work on wider UK economic impacts of a SE runway.
Airports Commission report shows fewer, not more, links to regional airports by 2030 with 3rd runway
The Times reports that analysis by Transport for London (TfL) of the Airports Commission’s final report shows that, with a 3rd runway, Heathrow would only serve 4 domestic destinations by 2030, compared to the 7 is now serves. It would serve only 3 with no new runway by 2030. (The Gatwick figures are 7 domestic destinations by 2030 with a 2nd runway, compared to 10 now). Heathrow has been claiming that its runway will be important for better links to the regions, and improved domestic connectivity by air. The Heathrow runway has been backed by Peter Robinson, the first minister of Northern Ireland, Derek Mackay, the Scottish transport minister, and Louise Ellman, the chairwoman of the transport select committee – on the grounds that it would help the regions. The Commission’s report says: (Page 313) “15.8 ….without specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future….” The Commission cannot see effective ways to ensure domestic links are not cut in future, as less profitable than long haul, but they suggest public subsidy by the taxpayer for these routes. This is by using PSO (Public Service Obligations) which could cost £ millions, is a bad use of public money, and may fall foul of EU law. So if the taxpayer has to pay, that means the runway costs us even more.
Boris warns regional airports, including Liverpool & Aberdeen, of likely cut in links to Heathrow with a 3rd runway
London Mayor Boris Johnson has rubbished claims a Heathrow 3rd runway would boost connectivity for the regions. He says Liverpool may not get a domestic link to Heathrow, even with a new runway. He has warned other regional airports of the same thing. In 1990 Heathrow supported 18 domestic routes, but that has fallen to seven. With a new runway, the Airports Commission expects that to fall to just four. The current seven are Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle. They have all on average seen their number of daily flights to London. If businesses in the Liverpool City Region, such as advanced engineering, creative and financial and professional services, need to air link to the world, they could do that through a hub airport (Heathrow, Schiphol, Paris etc). Or they could do it by their own direct flight links, but those would be less likely if there is an even bigger monopoly airport in the south east of England. Since 2012, the number of daily flights between Aberdeen and Heathrow has dropped from 13 flights a day to 8 flights a day. Heathrow claims it would provide more regional links – but it has cut these in the past, preferring to focus on more profitable long haul flights. That tendency is likely to continue, even with a new runway.