John McDonnell says Labour could scrap Heathrow expansion, as it does not meet key criteria

John McDonnell has suggested that Labour would cancel the expansion of Heathrow if it wins power, and it might even also block other airport projects.  John said climate change would dominate the party’s agenda in government. Labour have said for some time that the current 3rd runway plans “very clearly” do not meet Labour’s key criteria – its 4 tests – on protecting the environment. On climate grounds alone, plans to increase capacity at Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Gatwick, Stansted and East Midlands airports would need to be assessed by the same criteria.  He said that ensuring the “survival of our planet” would be Labour’s “number one priority” in government, with climate change becoming a “key” factor in all policy and investment decisions. Labour have the problem that some unions hope airport expansion will provide more jobs, and therefore back it, while knowing there is a carbon problem.  John McDonnell’s constituency, Hayes & Harlington, would be the worst affected by a Heathrow runway, in terms of homes destroyed and area covered in airport infrastructure. The 3rd runway fails not only on environmental grounds (carbon, noise, air pollution) but also on economic and social impacts.


Labour could scrap Heathrow expansion, John McDonnell says

By Harry Yorke, political correspondent (Telegraph)

Labour would cancel the expansion of Heathrow if it wins power, John McDonnell has suggested, amid fears that the party could block other airport projects across the country.

The shadow chancellor said climate change would dominate the party’s agenda in government, adding that the current proposals for a third runway “very clearly” did not meet Labour’s red lines on protecting the environment.

He also raised doubts over plans to increase capacity at Manchester, Leeds Bradford and East Midlands airports, stating that the “same criteria will be applied to all the expansions.”

Mr McDonnell said that ensuring the “survival of our planet” would be Labour’s “number one priority” in government, with climate change becoming a “key” factor in all policy and investment decisions.

It comes 16 months after Labour formally opposed Heathrow expansion in Parliament, arguing that the current proposals failed to meet four tests, including on carbon dioxide emissions and noise pollution.

The decision was met with fierce resistance at the time from Unite’s Len McCluskey, who wrote to every Labour MP to warn that blocking a third runway would torpedo “hundreds of thousands of new jobs.”

But when asked about Heathrow, Mr McDonnell said: “We set ourselves criteria, one of which is environmental impact, the other was also the economic impact and social impact.

“On the current criteria we’ve said very clearly Heathrow expansion doesn’t qualify.”

However, he acknowledged that in some cases increased capacity at regional airports could help combat climate change by reducing the number of people “travelling for example to one central hub.”

His ambiguity was criticised by Green MP Caroline Lucas, who told The Daily Telegraph:” If we are serious about reaching net zero then there can be no aviation expansion in the UK – anywhere.

“If Labour does want climate policies that have credibility it has got to bite the bullet on some of these more difficult issues.”

Ms Lucas’s concerns are shared by a growing number of Labour activists, who have been pushing for a ban on airport expansion as part of the party’s commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Asked to clarify Mr McDonnell’s comments on Sunday afternoon, Mr Corbyn refused to rule out scrapping the third runway, adding that it would need to “meet all the requests and requirements on noise, on pollution, on CO2 emissions.”

“Those are the tests that we apply to all airport developments,” he continued. “That is the reason why I opposed it when it last came to Parliament because, in my view, it did not meet those tests.”

Separately, Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, admitted that Labour’s plans to make every home in the UK energy efficient would require £60bn of additional borrowing.

The policy, announced on Sunday, would see the biggest overhaul of housing since the second world war, with loft insulation, double glazing and renewable technologies installed in almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes.

When asked how the project would be funded, Ms Long-Bailey told Sophy Ridge programme on Sky News “We’ve done financial modelling that shows that that £60 billion will be the government’s outlay in the initial stages.”

The remaining £190bn required to upgrade the housing stock would come from energy savings, she claimed, adding that Government expenditure would be recouped through increased tax revenues from the creation of new 400,000 jobs.



See earlier:

John McDonnell: Heathrow expansion will never happen – it cannot meet 4 vital tests

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell believes a 3rd runway at Heathrow will never get built because of the serious environmental issues the expansion would cause. McDonnell, MP for Hayes & Harlington, and a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a longstanding campaigner against the runway, due to the devastating impact it would have on his constituency. He does not believe Heathrow can get round the problem of air pollution from the runway and associated road traffic.  At a local meeting about Heathrow’s expansion plans, John said: “As soon as any decision is made, Hillingdon and the other boroughs will be straight back in court again”. …“I just don’t think Heathrow is the runner that it might have been with the governments in the past.” There is due to be a vote in Parliament in the summer on the runway; as things stand, the government would win backing for the runway. However, though many Labour MPs are keen supporters, there is a real possibility that Labour may be able to block it – especially if it won a general election. Labour set out 4 tests the runway would have to meet, and currently it cannot pass them.

Labour’s 4 tests require:

(1). noise issues to be addressed,

(2). air quality to be protected,

(3). the UK’s climate change obligations met and

(4). growth across the country supported.



Labour could scrap Heathrow’s third runway, says John McDonnell

By Chris Smyth, Whitehall Editor | The Times
November 3 2019,

Heathrow’s expansion plans do not pass environmental tests set by Labour

Heathrow expansion could be ditched by Labour because climate change is the party’s “number one priority”, the shadow chancellor has suggested.

John McDonnell said Heathrow “clearly doesn’t qualify” for a third runway under tests that the party has set, including meeting carbon reduction targets and minimising noise.

Labour has pledged that Britain will be carbon neutral by 2030, two decades years earlier than the government, as the parties compete to offer green policies to an electorate increasingly concerned about the environment.

Over the weekend the Conservatives said they would ban fracking because of “unacceptable” earthquake risks, bringing them into line with Labour.

Speaking on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, Mr McDonnell said: “I know Brexit’s important and we’ll deal with that, but actually our number one priority must be the survival of our planet.”

He said he would rewrite Treasury investment rules so that the “number one priority is climate change, the second is inequality, individual and regional, and the third is the fourth industrial revolution”.

Asked whether this would mean cancellation of Heathrow expansion, approved by the government last year, he said: “We set ourselves criteria, one of which is environmental impact, the other was also the economic impact and social impact. On the current criteria we’ve said very clearly Heathrow expansion doesn’t qualify.”

Mr McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency contains Heathrow, has long been personally opposed to expanding the airport but Labour gave its MPs a free vote on the issue last year, allowing it to pass the Commons easily.

The issue has proved an embarrassment for Boris Johnson, who promised to lie down in front of the bulldozers with Mr McDonnell to stop Heathrow expanding when he was elected MP for Uxbridge in 2015. He was criticised while foreign secretary for flying to Afghanistan and missing the vote, rather than resigning over Theresa May’s backing for expansion. During his Conservative Party leadership campaign over the summer he said he would not reopen the issue now it had been approved.

Mr McDonnell was also criticised by Jewish leaders for claiming that Labour had done everything it had promised to tackle antisemitism in the party.

The shadow chancellor said he was “so saddened” to see rabbis and Jewish newspapers warning that Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister would threaten the community’s way of life.

“I just want to reassure them, we’re doing everything we can,” he said. “All the things that they’ve asked us to do we’re doing and that will enable us then to reassure the Jewish community.”

Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, who met Mr Corbyn last year to discuss the community’s concerns, said Labour had not done what was asked at that meeting.

“They have failed on every count,” he said. “If John McDonnell is right, why only two weeks ago did Louise Ellman say she could not stay within the party?”

Dame Louise, MP for Liverpool Riverside, quit the party after 55 years of Labour membership, saying that Mr Corbyn was a “danger to the Jewish community”.

Mr Goldstein said Labour’s disciplinary process was still not transparent and was subject to political interference. Chris Williamson, an MP suspended over his comments about antisemitism, will learn tomorrow whether he can stand for the party at the next election, in a process which Mr Goldstein said was “determined on a whim”.

James Cleverly, the Conservative Party chairman, claimed yesterday that some British Jews were so uneasy about the prospect of Mr Corbyn as prime minister that they would leave the country if he entered Downing Street.

Mr Goldstein said this was “not hyperbole”, adding: “Is it a regular conversation around supper tables around the Jewish community? 100 per cent.”